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    THE TWYLIGHT TOWER by Karen Harper


    Delacorte Press, March 2001

    Elizabeth I's reign is barely begun and the nation is racked with suspicion. Whomever weds the Queen is likely to become ruler in truth and many wish to play a role in this decision, or take on the responsibility themselves. Elizabeth flirts with beautiful Robert to the annoyance of her chief advisor, and the Spanish and French conspire to place their candidates by Elizabeth's side, or in her place. There are certainly enough Tudor claimants waiting on the wings. Murder would be a small price to pay to become ruler of a great nation, yet is the fall of a drunken musician really murder or merely an accident?

    Elizabeth's personal assistants watch powerless as Elizabeth ignores her country and the dangers that they perceive to chase an elusive love. They cannot fully investigate the death without Elizabeth's help, but Elizabeth is caught up in her emotions rather than her reason. Still, who is the new lute player who arrives so suddenly to replace the old one?

    THE TWYLIGHT TOWER does an excellent job describing the political unrest and intrigue that pulsed through England while its new Queen pursued pleasure. Threats to Elizabeth's rule and even her life start out as apparent accidents but escalate until even besotten Elizabeth must act. She pulls together her privy council in a desperate attempt to find the truth--but has she waited too long? While author Karen Harper's history and political instincts are remarkable, her characters frequently ring flat. The ill-fated romance between Lord Robert and Queen Elizabeth takes up too much of the novel. This almost certainly accurately reflects what was in Elizabeth's mind. Unfortunately, the primary purpose of Elizabeth's fixation, from the novel's perspective, is to distance Elizabeth from the mystery. Since this is a mystery novel, the problems should be obvious. I enjoyed THE TWYLIGHT TOWER but I often found myself wondering if we couldn't just focus on finding out who dunnit and why.

    Two Stars

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