Londoners are crowding into the streets, celebrating, watching the river procession as Elizabeth Tudor makes her way by barge to the Tower of London in preparation for her coronation. Meanwhile, in the backstreets of Southwark, a kindhearted prostitute with pale skin and red hair is brutally murdered.
Nineteen-year-old Kate Haywood is the daughter of a court musician and a gifted lutenist herself. She is a favourite of Queen Elizabeth’s, having been with her at Hatfield and involved in uncovering the killer of Elizabeth’s envoy. When one of Elizabeth’s ladies is murdered, also pale-skinned and redheaded, fears are that the murderer is circling closer to the Queen. As an commoner Kate has freedom to move between the court and the outside world without attracting attention and so is called on by the Queen to help unravel the mystery of who is killing these women who look like Elizabeth and why.
The period details and the intrigues and rivalries of the court are well drawn. I particularly liked the characterization of Elizabeth and Robert Dudley showing the varying facets of their personalities. Kate herself is a likable character with mysteries of her own. Occasionally I felt that her ability to so successfully pass herself off as a boy and to move easily through what were dangerous parts of London stretched credibility slightly. The mystery at the heart of the story was satisfyingly complicated and I didn’t manage to pick who done it. Murder at Westmister Abbey is described as a cozy mystery (though, how is murder cozy?) and is an easy and enjoyable read. Although this is the second in Amanda Carmack’s Elizabethan Mysteries series, it works well as a standalone novel.
A more comprehensive review can be found here.