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Queen of Ambition (2001)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743410300, Mass Market Paperback)
Ursula Blanchard, loyal lady of the Queen's Presence Chamber and gifted sleuth, is at home amid the glittering complexities of the royal court. Now, Ursula has a new part to play in the service of her Queen -- a role that exposes her to hidden dangers in the famed university town of Cambridge.
Assigned as a harbinger for the Queen's upcoming Summer Progress to Cambridge, Ursula is placed in charge of not only Her Majesty's comfort, but also her safety. For Ursula, that means undertaking menial employment in a pie shop to investigate rumored political perils behind a swashbuckling student playlet conceived at the University to entertain the Queen.
Even in such a bastion of Protestant power and scholarly pursuits as Cambridge, protecting the Queen is not purely academic. When a handsome young student's all-too-conveniently timed death rouses her suspicions, Ursula applies her superior powers of observation to untangling a mystifying jumble of oddities, coincidences, secrets, and ciphers that surround her...and discovers ominous signs of treason.
(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 08 Jan 2013 12:52:17 -0500)
"Ursula and her small daughter, Meg, are at their Sussex manor house, Withysham, when Ursula is summoned to court. The queen will soon set out on a Royal Progress to Cambridge, the university town known for its Protestant sympathies. Accompanied by a huge entourage and two hundred wagonloads of goods, Her Majesty will spend five nights at King's College, where she will be kept in comfort and entertained in style. Nothing must go wrong." "But Sir William Cecil, the secretary of state, is worried. Some students plan to welcome the queen to Cambridge with a farcical playlet involving kidnapping and swords. Cecil would prohibit all violence and swords near the queen's person, but she insists on letting the students have their fun. Or is it the queen who is having fun playing with her courtiers' concerns? With the spirited, thirty-year-old queen, it's always hard to tell. Or, a more serious possibility, is the paylet being used to cloak a threat to Elizabeth's safety?" "Cecil can't stop the playlet but he can send Ursula as a harbinger to find out what's really happening. Her mission: dress as a cookmaid and obtain a job in Roland Jester's pie shop. The pie shop is a meeting place for students, and Roland and his brother, Cambridge tutor Giles Woodforde, may somehow be involved in the playlet." "Working in a pie shop is a new experience for Ursula, but it's not the work that's disturbing. She hears students talking. She sees people whispering. Something sinister is indeed going on, and when a young student who is himself worried about the playlet dies in a suspicious fall just before he is to meet with Ursula, she knows that Cecil's fears are justified. The queen may well be the target of a plot, and Ursula may be the only one who can save her."--BOOK JACKET.
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