HH Com 241 (237)

Blackmailed by members of the Queen's Privy Council because of her husband's homosexuality, Lady Katherine, Countess Lyminster, must serve as a spy at Elizabeth I's court. When her husband is murdered outside a house of male prostitution, she joins forces with Christopher Marlowe, famed play maker, her husband's former lover, and frequent spy in his own right, to uncover the plotting and counterplotting that endangers not only her family's solvency, but the security of England.

Katherine battles Charity Bonner, a wealthy Puritan who had once been the late Earl's betrothed, amid a complex welter of greed, religious extremism, and personal animosity. In the process of untangling this knot, the Countess travels to the stews of London and war-torn Flushing before the murder can be solved and her own future made safe.

Well I'm always in favor of seeing Christopher Marlowe brought to life but even he would say you're going to need more bang for the buck here.

Reviving the family fortunes is not that compelling in a hook. Saving the monarchy, maybe, but really, we know how that ends, so also not a good choice. You're going to need higher stakes.

And making Charity the Puritan a more compelling villain, even one we might have some sympathy for, at least earaly on, is going to help a lot.

You're going to have to really dig up something fresh and new to hook me on this. This is not an unexplored trope in novels by anyone's measure.


Hypergraphia said...

When I read "Queens Privy" my first thought was "a council for her chamber pot?"

I'm also wondering if there were actually male prostitutes or male "whore houses" in the 1500's? Maybe you've already researched this, that's just something that struck me as "out of place" in terms of this era.

Anonymous said...

The person who intrigues me in this hook is not Lady Katherine, but Charity the Puritan. Here's a suggestion to consider: toss out Lady Kate and make Charity the heroine of story. Make Charity less wealthy also. Mysteries involving the Elizabethan court have been done to death. Mysteries involving commited Puritans at a time when it was dangerous to hold to anything, but the state religion is much more interesting. Also raises the stakes for heroine considerably.

Anne Lyle said...

What tripped me up was the idea of a woman being blackmailed because her husband is gay. This is an era famed for its cross-dressing and gender-bending! It might not be something one boasts about in company, but it's unlikely to cause a major scandal either. No-one cared that much that Marlowe was gay. The authorities were much more interested in charging him with the heresy of atheism...