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    Enjoyable historical thriller

    1572 Spy master Walsingham is in Paris, while the massacre of St. Bartholomew is occurring. But he must retrieve an important document. Later, events result in sending Dr John Dee into France. Meanwhile Walsingham believes he must deal with the threat from Mary, Queen of the Scots. An entertaining well-written historical thriller with some interesting characters. A good start to a new series even though the story was written in the present tense, not something I particularly like.
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    A nice start to a historical series...

    I am a big fan of historical mysteries, so I was happy to have a chance to read a review copy of The Eyes of the Queen, which is the first title in a new series featuring the real-life John Dee - mathematician, astrologer, astronomer, alchemist, philosopher and also, by-the-way, advisor to Queen Elizabeth I - as the protagonist. Clements’ tale weaves nicely among major historical events of the day: the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in France; Queen Elizabeth’s reluctance to execute Queen Mary, even in the face of numerous real and rumored plots to put Mary on the throne of England; Philip of Spain’s attempts to invade England; and the search for a rumored Northwest Passage. Many historical figures other than Dee, including Francis Walsingham, William Cecil, Philip Sidney, and of course, Elizabeth herself, have roles to play as well, fleshing out a nice historical background. And the story itself is a good one, more of a spy thriller than a mystery, with multiple threads told from multiple viewpoints that kept me reading until the very end. John Dee’s character is an interesting mix of what today would be seen as scientist and charlatan, but Dee’s analytical skills were quite advanced for his time, and he puts them to good use. The author’s slightly understated writing style is also engaging. For example, in a moment when Walsingham and his aide-de-camp are puzzling over something, the author comments in a dry aside that “knowing what it isn’t doesn’t help them with what it is”. I did have a couple of minor issues with the book. First, by the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, Queen Elizabeth would have been on the throne for nearly 15 years, so I have a bit of trouble imagining that she would only now be setting up a formal spying apparatus. And second, without being spoiler-ish, I wasn’t thrilled with some of the behaviors attributed to Queen Mary during her captivity. These may be based in fact, but I didn’t see that they added much to the story, and so the descriptions seemed rather gratuitous to me. But both of these are sort of minor, and overall, I liked The Eyes of the Queen a lot, and hope that more titles in the series are to come. Please note that I tend to be pretty conservative in awarding stars, only giving five stars to maybe one in thirty or forty books. So four stars is a great rating from me and means I really do recommend a book. And my thanks again to the publisher, Atria/Leopoldo & Co, and NetGalley for the ARC!

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