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Face Down Below the Banqueting House: A Lady Appleton Mystery    by Kathy Lynn Emerson order for
Face Down Below the Banqueting House
by Kathy Lynn Emerson
Order:  USA  Can
Perseverance Press, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

The only thing better than a good mystery is a good historical mystery. Face Down Below the Banqueting House is just that. A good historical mystery. It's the sixteenth century and Susanna, Lady Appleton - gentlewoman, herbalist, and sometime sleuth - is expecting a visit from Queen Elizabeth I at her home, Leigh Abbey. A man dies in a fall from a tree that had been turned into a banqueting house (these were normally built under a tree or in the tree itself, giving a touch of whimsy - the man who fell surely didn't appreciate said whimsy).

Village scandal is revealed and speculated upon. Is this an accident or murder? If murder, is it the work of a local? Or a plot against the Queen? When another man dies in an ice well, accusations reverberate around the village, where almost everyone has a secret or two. The plot is well devised and action moves the story along at a good clip. The background of the life of the times is fascinating and must have been a joy to research. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of women's clothing and how it was worn. Life had to have been hard in those days, but when isn't it?

I did find it difficult at times to keep all the characters straight in my mind. Who was related to whom. Who worked for whom. Who was sleeping with whom. Nevertheless, I found Face Down Below the Banqueting House a delightful and suspenseful book, complete with the necessary bad guy to dislike.

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