After her husband's death, Mary Queen of Scots, returns from the continent to her home in Scotland. Her return polarizes the populace between her and the English Queen Elizabeth, who expects her cousin to denounce any claim to the English throne. When a Scottish nobleman, Lord Glengly, is murdered in the English home of Lord Madderly, the situation becomes even more tangled. Elizabeth orders renowned herbalist Lady Susanna Appleton to Madderly Castle, allegedly to assist the lady of the manor with a herbal she is working to produce.
In actuality, Susanna is the ticket to gain easy access to the castle for her spouse Robert, an intelligence officer, working for the Queen. His assignment is to ferret out the murderer and to determine whether an anti-Elizabeth conspiracy has formed in the region. When the killer strikes again, Susanna willinly places herself in danger in order to make sure that justice to be served.
Any person interested in the intrigues, politics, and lifestyles of the Elizabethan era will want to devour FACE DOWN UPON AN HERBAL. Kathy Lynn Emerson's impeccable and detailed research is on every page, making the period seem alive in the mind of the reader. From the role of females deferring to their male superiors with the irony of two Queens in charge of two countries and the lives of the men who serve them to the adjustments partners must make in marriages of convenience, this authentic feeling mystery could serve as a very interesting history text. The who-done-it is fully constructed and loaded with viable suspects. Added to the mystery and historical perspectives, is a touch of romance. The bottom line is that this is one of the best historical mystery series on the market today.