Monday, 6 August 2012

A review - I've not done any for a while and I've started to get withdrawal.
“The Sins of The Father:  A Mediaeval Mystery” by C. B. Hanley is set during the turmoil after the death of King John, the occupation by forces of the French prince Louis (later King Louis VIII) and the start of rebellion by Barons, to enthrone Johns son Henry III.  So far, so good.  The location is the impressive castle of Conisbrough in Yorkshire.  Its lord the Earl of Surrey William de Warrenne, has been called to arms, to muster a force as well as act as a central meeting of other lords retinues – they gather to march upon Lincoln, occupied by French forces, and relieve it’s castle’s garrison of English royalists.

In this gathering of armies and nobility, Edwin Weaver, the young son of the castle’s bailiff, has to keep order among its civilian population.  Intelligent and kindly, he’s taken unawares when summoned by the Earl and his castellan Sir Geoffrey.  One of the visiting nobles is brutally murdered – a favourite of the old King and known to be willing to seek favour by exposing (or implying) treachery against the young King.  Since Earl Surrey’s past is somewhat chequered, does he have motive for the killing?  Edwin is ordered to uncover the killer, before the host marches onto Lincoln in two days!

What follows is a great novel, combining an intriguing mystery with period detail and intelligent characterisation.  The plot is intelligent, with clues scant yet present and the actual solution shocking.  The reader understands the basic motive but red herrings lead us away from the true killer.  The location detail is wonderful, giving a intriguing insight into the workings of the lower echelons of castle inhabitants as well as it’s lesser nobility.  I can highly recommend this novel to both mystery readers as well as those interested in medieval life.

Published by The Mystery Press, 2012, ISBN:  0-7524-8091-6

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