Go to Homepage   Karen Harper: The Poyson Garden

 

Delacorte Press [Hardcover], ISBN 0-385-33283
When I was about 12 years old, an aunt gave me a book about the young Elizabeth I for Christmas. Already a bookworm and armchair historian, I became fascinated with Elizabethan England. Thirty-one years later The Poyson Garden renewed my captivation with that era. 

The autumn of 1558 finds the future Elizabeth I languishing at Hatfield House under the watchful eyes of Sir Thomas Pope and his wife, Beatrice. Boredom fills her days until one afternoon when a faithful groom slips her a note -- a note that will lead Elizabeth into grave danger.  

Elizabeth's aunt, Mary Boleyn, lies ill at nearby Wivenhoe and begs Elizabeth to come quickly and secretly. Mary's son, Henry Carey, wounded in a vicious ambush on his way to visit his mother, has important news for his cousin. Feigning one of her famous "sick head aches" (migraine), Elizabeth slips away from her warders. Discovering that Henry's man died from poisoned arrows in the ambush and that his mother is also being poisoned, Elizabeth plunges headlong into a maelstrom of deadly herbs, treachery, and lingering death. 

The Poyson Garden begins with the twang of an arrow and never lets up until its ultimately satisfying ending. For all the meticulous research that went into this entertaining tale, one never feels overwhelmed by the history. Rather, the reader is enveloped in Elizabeth's world as she races to save not only herself but perhaps thousands of her loyal supporters. 

Mystery readers who enjoy a finely crafted historical mystery will want to add The Poyson Garden to their library. To mangle a quote from the great lady herself, This is Karen Harper's work, and it is marvelous in our eyes.  

Teri Dohmen

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