It is the crowning day of twenty-five-year-old Bess Tudor's life as she returns from exile to become England's queen. But even as her magnificent procession wends its way to Westminster Palace, a shot rings out, muffled by the jostling crowd. Within moments of becoming England's ruler, Elizabeth learns of the brutal murder of a highborn lady of the court, the sister of one of her dearest friends. Elizabeth cannot refuse her friend's request to find the killer - especially since the prime suspect is too close to the crown - and her friends - to overlook. Elizabeth must be circumspect. Trust can be deadly. So she summons her small band of loyal retainers and plunges into a cauldron of conflicting loyalties and deadly intrigue.