Nicholas Peverell has returned to his manor house in Sussex after visiting King Henry VIII at court to find that his loyal steward has been murdered - strangled and thrown from the manor house tower. Nicholas immediately decides to launch an investigation.
He also has to deal with the unrest among the monks at his priory - King Henry is trying to reform the church and the plight of the monks is as yet unsure - could they somehow be involved?
Nicholas' problems are further exacerbated when beautiful and talented local girl Jane Warrener tells him she has overheard talk of a conspiracy against the king. It is her notion that his steward's murder had something to do with it. Perhaps he overheard the conspirators and they killed him off before he could betray their plans. . .
If this is the case, and with King Henry's untimely announcement of his intention to visit Peverell Manor on his way to Portsmouth in just a few days, Nicholas has no time to lose if he is to hunt down the murderous traitors and save the life of his king.
Nicholas Peverell, adviser to King Henry VIII, returns home to find that thieves have apparently murdered his steward in this middling debut mystery from British historian Collier. Preoccupied by the king's plan to seize Peverell Manor for revenue, as well as the growing tensions between the throne and the papacy over Anne Boleyn, Peverell is startled when Jane Warrener, an attractive, independent and assertive commoner, presents an alternative theory. Jane suggests that the steward may have known too much about a conspiracy to slay the king. Despite his grief over the recent loss of his wife and son, Peverell finds himself falling for Jane, and he abets her desire to break free of society's restrictions by enlisting her as his assistant. When he learns that the attempt on the king's life may come during a visit to the manor, the inquiry gains even more urgency as he tries to juggle it along with his own misgivings about the king's policies and caprices. The identity of the murderer doesn't come as much of a surprise, while the sleuthing consists of little more than checking motives and alibis. Unfortunately, the fast-paced plot lacks the ingenious twists that would make up for the reduced suspense in knowing that Henry VIII wasn't assassinated. Authentic period detail jars with anachronistic dialogue. An attractive jacket, depicting Henry VIII in the foreground and a body in the background, will hook historical mystery fans, though any sequel will need to be stronger to retain their loyalty. FYI:Collier is also the author ofA Nest of Scorpions and other thrillers.