The Queen’s Head is the first book in The Bracewell Mysteries by Edward Marston.
The story opens with the beheading of Mary, Queen of Scots in Fotheringhay Castle in February 1587, revealing the political and religious tensions of the period.
Nicholas Bracewell, manager and bookholder of The Lord Westfield’s Men, a prominent theatrical company in London, decides to go for a drink with his good friend Will Fowler. Will is an actor with the company and is in possession of a personality that not all appreciate. However, not long after Nicholas and Will arrive at the pub, Will gets involved in a fight…a fight which leaves him dead and Nicholas swearing to hunt down his killer.
But Nicholas doesn’t have much to go on and the dark and dangerous streets of London are no place to go digging for the truth. To make his life even more complicated, The Lord Westfield’s Men have been chosen to perform at the court of Queen Elizabeth I over Christmas…which is the highest of honours but also makes them a target…
I thoroughly enjoyed this first book in The Bracewell Mysteries. The people and places were vividly described, ensuring that the story was a rich and colourful read. The historical detail was comprehensive without being overpowering. I was especially interested to read of the ins and outs of the Elizabethan theatre, of which I only had a limited knowledge prior to reading this book. It was presented in an accessible and entertaining way, adding to the overall enjoyment of the story.
I am looking forward to reading book 2 in the series, The Merry Devils, to see how the characters and the series develop.