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==Synopsis of the book:==
The year is 1481 and Roger Chapman is busy trying to eek out a living while proving enough for his wife and family. Times are hard in Bristol, when he receives a request from the Alderman John Foster to visit him at his home at his earliest convenience. Roger has always had a good relationship with this man and to his surprise he wishes to employ him and pay him for his work.
Foster has recently bought some land and wishes to build upon it a Chapel. However when the land is being cleared the body is discovered, that has been lying in a shallow grave for about 20 years. The body has already been identified as Isabella Linkhorne who disappeared around that time period. Foster wants Roger to find out who killed this young woman so the new building will be able blessed and evil spirits put to rest.
He selects Roger because he has a real ability to solve mysteries having previously helped out the Duke of Gloucester and it is something he enjoys doing. But can Roger solve this case? As it happened so long before, all he initially knows is this dead woman was a rebellious lady who if local gossip is anything to go by had three men companions shortly before she disappeared, he must try and track these men down and find out what happened all those years ago.
==My thoughts on this novel:==
This is the second medieval story I have read by this author is the past few weeks. I enjoyed that and I enjoyed this one too. I find it amazing that an author can tell a story so convincingly about what life was like during this period. It is the level of detail that I find amazing and I feel through her words that I am transported back in time. Such is the quality and the eye for detail in the writer's words.
Before I read a book from these series I had not considered crime thrillers from our past. I am a bit fan of Detective and crime related mysteries and this series of books show that even over 500 plus years ago murders were being committed and people where trying to solve them even then. I had always been afraid that period stories would use terms and old English conversations that I could not understand or follow. I am glad to say these books are not like this and they constitute a fabulous read.
Kate Sedley has dedicated her writing career to period thrillers. So far this British author has written 20 of which 19 feature Roger Chapman as the man tasked with solving a mystery. This one is the 16th and was written in 2007. What I appreciate about the Sedley's writing is she writes about her home City of Bristol and her knowledge of it comes through in her words.
I selected this story because I wanted to read another story by this author and having read the summary on this inside cover I liked what I read. This summary was a good length and within two paragraphs really wetted my appetite on a mystery that had happened 20 years before. I knew this would even stretch any Detective let alone an untrained man without the advantages of modern techniques and knowledge.
The story began quite quietly with a little background on Roger Chapman's life. I found this really enjoyable to know more about his family and life within it. It was well written and showed the depth the author had on both him and his family. However as soon as Roger was asked to solve this mystery I was very interested, as I was really interested in how he would go about solving it 20 years after the event.
The story was intriguing, and I really enjoyed the way Roger tried to discover the identity of the three mysterious men in the dead woman's life. It was never an easy road and I thought the author displayed this cleverly. Indeed at times I felt it was slow going, but there was always something to think about and enjoy within the story.
It was only as Chapman's investigation was developing that the pace was picked up and the excitement in the mystery intensified. Even towards the conclusion I had no idea who was responsible for the crime and if I have a criticism of the story was the over reliance on people telling the truth within it and their amazing memories as to what happened on a March day twenty years before.
What I particularly enjoyed about this book was the lead character Roger Chapman. I think this is because he is really nothing special within his society, a father and husband who is trying to put food on his table for his family. As a result he is very down to earth and like you and me he makes mistakes and sometimes says or does the wrong thing. I find him easy to relate to and like, as the author is very good at sharing his thoughts, concerns and opinions with the reader.
From my perspective this novel had an awful lot. Not only was it a murder mystery, but it also rich in humour but subtle and sarcastic. This added to the richness of the story and I have grown to find the humour employed as most amusing but at the same time it does not overwhelm you and detract from the story. There is however other issues within the story to think about and these are always subtle but always make you think as they add to your uncertainty. Such as Chapman's wife admitting that a man he hates sometimes comes to dinner while he is away and you wonder if something is happening behind his back. While issues such as theft, adultery and religion are also present.
I liked the way the author created and maintained the suspense the whole way through the story. As like Roger you wanted to know which one if any of the three men seen out with the dead lady had killed her and why.
The story was a bit longer than I think it needed to be, there was a little too much background on unrelated and characters that where not key to the investigation. Although this always made you wonder and question why this was included. Some relates to what has previously happened in stories before this one and just provide update on them but added little to this story.
I would recommend this as a good well thought out and written period mystery. The lead character and his family are fascinating and I love to read and learn all about what life was like back then. This series of books are well worth reading as the author manages to successfully show you how people survived and lived.
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.
©CPTDANIELS June 2011