The Suggested Assassin – When an illustrious British spy receives a message from the Queen of France requesting his assistance in matters critical to the court, he and his oldest daughter head to Paris.
This third volume in West’s enticing adventure series opens with a rousing sea escapade in which Sir Anthony Standen and his oldest daughter, Maria, find themselves battling a two-vessel fleet of Barbary pirates. Fans of all things nautical should thoroughly enjoy the high-action scenes as well as the many pages devoted to the exquisitely detailed descriptions of the innovations installed on the Standens’ newly launched sailboat. But by January 1610, Anthony is happily settled back in his Italian vineyard estate with his wife, Francesca, and their five children—20-year-old twins Maria and Antonio and youngsters William, Anna, and baby Catherine. Anthony has been instructing the twins—and readers who have a fondness for puzzles—in the arts of lockpicking and cryptanalysis, tools of his trade as a spy. A knock on the door brings a dispatch rider with a letter from Marie, Queen of France. The young dauphin, Louis, is struggling with a debilitating stutter. The court doctors, Marie writes, are considering amputating a portion of the child’s tongue to alleviate the problem. Can Anthony help the future king? But Anthony realizes that the missive also contains a secret code revealing a much more serious issue—somebody wants Marie’s husband, King Henry, dead (“Help we are in danger, foe within court”). Francesca suggests Anthony bring Maria with him to Paris, where she hopes he will find their spirited daughter a suitable husband—a prospect that the young woman is loath to consider. And so, father and daughter are off to the Louvre Palace. The pace of the narrative slows, as the tale becomes an investigative procedural. Still, the story is filled with captivating historical digressions and, more compellingly, the rich intricacies of palace politics, jealousies, and ambitions. There are enough suspects among the queen’s most trusted advisers to keep readers guessing until the final pages. And Maria, who is given a prominent role in this installment, emerges as a sturdy, feminist protagonist.
The Suggested Assassin – An entertaining adventure that’s packed with diverse and intriguing historical morsels. – Kirkus Reviews