The year: 1522. The place: England. Henry VIII is welcoming his nephew, Emperor Charles V, to his court. As part of the welcome, a special masque is being prepared, organised by Cardinal Wolsey. It’s on an Arthurian theme because Henry is obsessed with his supposed descent from King Arthur.
But there is a murder; the royal historian, Pietro Gonzaga, who has been working on proving Henry’s Arthurian descent, is found dead on the lawns of Hampton Court. And there will be more murders in the course of the novel.
The sleuth here is Anthony Blanke, a music teacher who was once one of Wolsey’s trumpeters. He is the son of late royal trumpeter John Blanke, an African musician who arrived in England with Catherine of Aragon. Anthony is at Wolsey’s palace of Hampton Court when the first murder happens, having been sent for to play a role in the masque.
After several murders and having been assaulted himself, Anthony finds the killer…
John Blanke was a real person, whose image is shown in a couple of paintings, sitting on a horse and blowing a fanfare, but there is little known of him after he retired from the job and married, so why not give him a son?
|The guy with the turban was probably John Blanke. Public domain|
It’s an intriguing story. There is a lot of detail about the work that needed to be done to prepare for a masque. Wolsey, in this novel, is at his height of power, several years before his downfall. Anne Boleyn is there, taking part in the masque, but not yet being courted by Henry.
Steven Veerapen has written some historical non fiction, but there are two novels in this series so far, as well as the Ned Savage Elizabethan thrillers. I am definitely planning to read the sequel to this novel, Of Judgement Fallen!
Available in both ebook and print.