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Deception: Lady Grace Mysteries    by Patricia Finney order for
by Patricia Finney
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Lady Grace Cavendish and other Maids of Honour have been awaiting the arrival of the Queen in her Chambers. Her Majesty arrives in a fury, after a report of a shortage of silver. A design has been chosen - a Griffin - but 'Hell's teeth', the Queen ponders how there can be insufficient silver in the Royal Mint for the coins - at least that is what Mint Warden Sir Edward Latimer says.

The Queen's Maids are excited about attending the 'Frost Fair', to be held on the frozen river Thames. A cold spell has set in, making for a perfect day to attend the Fair, with its bright-colored tents and stalls selling everything from 'puppets to pasties'. They are especially excited about the new sport of skating, introduced by a Dutch nobleman. Grace writes in her daybooke: 'Skating is a wonderful feeling. To think that a little bit of bone strapped to a piece of wood can take you skimming across the ice as fast as a galloping horse!'

After Lady Jane loses control of her skating and crashes through shoreline willows, her scream is heard across the Thames. Frozen in place in the ice is a waterman's boat, with a blindfolded corpse inside. The body is identified as Will Stubbs, reported as 'gone missing'. Under the blindfold are two silver coins, which Lady Grace notes have the same pattern as Her Majesty chose. The coins are expertly crafted, but of a dull silver. Also, only six coins have been released so far, all in the Queen's custody. Foul play is suspected and the Lady Pursuivant assigned five days to solve the mystery.

Grace makes an appointment with Sir Edward Latimer to tour his facility and search for clues, on the pretense of learning the minting process. She and her loyal assistants, Ellie and Massou, set out under cover of a cold night, and soon find themselves in danger as they enter the scene of counterfeiting and corruption. Among the suspects are Mint Engraver Derek Anthony, Master Moneyer Jacob Petty, and the victim's brother Harry Stubbs. Grace notices that Derek wears a handsome ruff, of a pattern seen at the victim's home.

Patricia Finney writes suspense-filled winners in her Lady Grace Mysteries. In her daybooke, Grace writes during Deception, 'I have but one more day! I hate to think that I may fail the Queen when she has put so much faith in me ... It makes my blood boil that someone is seeking to defraud Her Majesty and our country. I think it is downright treachery!' Of course, she doesn't fail this time and we can look forward to her next adventure, Exile, in which a ruby is stolen and Ellie is the accused!

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