Conspiracy (Lady Grace Mysteries series)

by Patricia Finney

ages 9 and older

This book has murder, mayhem, intrigue and really weird clothes. That's because it's set in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (she lived from 1533 to 1603 and was queen for more than 40 years).

The book is written as the diary of fictional 13-year-old Lady Grace Cavendish, whose own mother was killed trying to protect the queen from murderers. (Before you say such plots are too ridiculous to be true, consider that in real life Elizabeth was twice accused of treason against her country -- the first time when she was 15 years old; the second time she was held prisoner in the Tower of London).

In the fictional world of Queen Elizabeth and Grace, what started out as a pleasant summer vacation seems to have gone horribly wrong. The queen is vacationing at the home of an old boyfriend, the Earl of Leicester (pronounced "Les-ter") when mysterious "accidents" start to happen around her.

Are they really accidents? Or is the old boyfriend out to get the queen? Or maybe the queen's new boyfriend, a Swedish prince, is the culprit? It's up to Grace and several other kids who work for the queen to solve the mystery and -- maybe -- save the queen's life.

A word of warning: Some of the writing here might seem old-fashioned. That's because Patricia Finney is trying to write as a 13-year-old girl might have written during the time period. But give yourself a few chapters to get used to the different style and you'll be wishing you lived in the time of lords and ladies.

The earlier books in this series are "Assassin" and "Betrayal." You don't need to have read the first two to enjoy "Conspiracy." The fourth book in the series, "Deception," will be published in September.

-- Tracy Grant