- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Crème de la Crime (1 Mar. 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1780290578
- ISBN-13: 978-1780290577
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.4 x 22.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,667,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
A Traitor's Tears (An Ursula Blanchard Elizabethan Mystery) Hardcover – 1 Mar 2014
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"Buckley's engaging 12th Tudor whodunit"
Publishers Weekly on Traitor's Tears
""Buckley's engaging 12th Tudor whodunit""
Publishers Weekly on Traitor's Tears
Top Customer Reviews
I did not know when I started that this was a series so I had no prior details about the characters. In this particular novel one of her faithful servants, Brockley, is accused of murder and the story is a mystery (I suppose) in which Ursula is determined to clear the name of her servant. There is an undercurrent that indicates that Ursula and Brockley are attracted to one another - never mind that Brockley is very much married. I found this odd rather than interesting.
This book is very light reading. Although it is not badly written it just does not have anything of substance to recommend it.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Lots of meaty possibilities there, but they weren’t realized. I’d fantasized about discovering something along the lines of Iain Pear’s An Instance of the Fingerpost (definitely on the “Essentials” shelf), but what I got was more like Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone transported to the 16th Century—with little in the way of period language or detail.
Bottom line: this is your standard mass-market mystery novel and Buckley uses all the techniques you’d expect in such a publication.
• She breaks the flow of her narrative to give us heaping platters of visual details that tell us very little about the situations and characters the novel presents: Roger Brockley, my reliable manservant, who had been my resourceful companion in many times of danger, had a high forehead, lightly strewn with pale gold freckles, a receding hairline and very steady grey-blue eyes.
• She plugs previous volumes in the series: [John Ryder] had joined us on our last adventure, which had taken us into dangerous Spain. But for him, we might not have got out safely.
• She uses the predictable show-the-reader-what-the-narrator-looks-like-by-having-her-look-in-a-mirror move: As I prepared to set out, I looked at myself in a mirror and noticed how the years were changing me. My hair was still dark and glossy, but my eyes, which were hazel, had little lines around them and a wary expression.
• She tells us what one character has done by having a second character describe to the very one who did those things exactly what she did: ‘We saw you run from the garden,’ said Gladys, ‘and Dale was there all of a sudden pleading and crying. You tried to argue with them, but they took no heed of either of you.’ Though why a woman who’s just run into a house needs to be told what she saw and did once she got there is a question without a satisfactory answer.
• She plays the put-the-two-conspirators-in-a-room-together-and-just-wait-for-them-to-discuss-their-every-illegal-thought-and-action-in-detail card.
I’d been hoping for some interesting religious wrangling, a look at the political uses of faith in Elizabeth’s England, a rich discussion of the complicated relations between legitimate and “natural” children, a sense of how a woman in the 16th Century might have managed to carve out and maintain an independent existence. What I got was a competent, but predictable mass market paperback.
If you like leaving a book with interesting historical and ethical questions to mull over—which is how my tastes run—you’ll be disappointed with A Traitor’s Tears. If you want airplane reading or a book to carry about while you run errands—the literary equivalent of an episode of a sit-com—well, that’s what you’ll get.
I can't speak for the rest of the books, but this installment is particularly reliant on pre-established relationships and while it is certainly possible to read it as a standalone, I can't say I'd recommend doing so. Not unless you enjoy feeling like something of a third wheel. The author recaps essential information, but no amount of rehashing is substitute for good old fashioned character development.
I don't mean to sound overly critical as I'm sure Buckley's characters and their backgrounds are firmly established in Ursula's earlier adventures, I am simply stating new readers are not afforded a lot of opportunity to connect with her players and that makes it really difficult appreciate the drama of their circumstances and really undermines the inherent value of this particular story.
My main problem with this installment was that I just couldn't remember much about the main antagonist in this story, who was a character that Ms. Buckley introduced in the last book, and frankly, I didn't want to go back and re-read the last book just to refresh my memory. Buckley did briefly repeat essential information about this character so it was possible to treat this book as a stand-alone. But if a character isn't memorable enough to stick in the memory, it's usually a sign of weak character development.
As in all Ursula Blanchard books, Ms. Buckley employs sometimes unlikely coincidences, changes in point of view, questions that are not explained or answered until later in the book, and sudden references to the future. All of this may momentarily jar new readers, but experienced readers will recognize them as tried-and-true "mystery story" techniques designed to create interest and suspense. If they work for you, then you'll enjoy this book. But if, like me, you're getting tired of "tried-and-true" story methods and want a little more historical and ethical substance, then you'll find this book just OK.