A Murder for Her Majesty
by Beth Hilgartner
Houghton Mifflin Co. 1986
jacket painting by Alexander Farquharson
From the book jacket:
"Dead?" asked a voice nearly directly below Alice. She started, then held her breath, terrified.
"Dead," Crofton confirmed. "The Queen will be pleased, I do believe..."
Hidden in a tree, Alice Tuckfield had seen the whole thing: her father riding along with one of his "friends" from London, the arrow that had come out of nowhere, and the meeting between the two men who now were saying that the Queen, Elizabeth herself, had wanted Sir Henry Tuckfield killed. If that is true, where is Alice to go? Then she remembers her father's advice -- "If ever you should find yourself in need, and myself unable to help you, seek out Lady Jenny" -- and she sets out in secrecy and haste for the manor house somewhere on the other side of York.
But York is a bigger, more confusing city than Alice had imagined, and while she's wandering, lost and hungry, two boys run into her and knock her down. To make amends, they take her home with them for shelter and a hot meal. "Home" is not an orphanage, as she'd first thought, but the dormitory for the York Minster's Boys' Choir. And for a lark, Alice's new friends decide to disguise Alice as a boy and smuggle her into the choir to see how long she can sing undiscovered. It becomes more than a game of masquerade, though, when Alice overhears a conversation between one of her father's murderers and an official of the cathedral. Now it's a game of life and death, and if Alice is discovered, it will be the end of her.
"After witnessing the murder of her father by ambitious 'friends' of Queen Elizabeth Alice Tuckfield runs away to York, joins the Cathedral choir disguised as a boy, escapes her pursuers, and eventually exposes them to the law. The plot is tight...the protagonist and choir masters are well portrayed.... This has...action, suspense, and a vivid setting." ---Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"The suspense in Hilgartner's gripping mystery is balanced by the fascinating details of daily life at the York Minster during the Elizabethan era.... This page-turner will attract readers; it may even entice some to go on to read other historical novels." ---School Library Journal, starred review
"Fascinating look at the life of cathedral choir boys in Elizabethan England.... It's fun reading a story with a fairy tale happy ending." ---VOYA
"The story...is unusual and the details of choir life in Elizabethan days add luster. Older mystery buffs should enjoy this involving fare." ---Booklist