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Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Queen's Man by Sharon Kay Penman

Genre: Historical Mystery

Setting: England, 1193 A.D.

First Sentence: Do you think the King is dead?

This novel is the first in Sharon Kay Penman's Justin de Quincy mystery series.

Epiphany, 1193.  Justin de Quincy finds himself on the road to London, alone, on a snowy morning.  Suddenly, he encounters the scene of a crime.  A pair of outlaws are attacking a man and a boy.  Justin comes to the victims' aid.  He chases off the outlaws.  Unfortunately, the man has been dealt a fatal blow.  His last words to Justin are: "You must deliver this letter to the Queen."

The Queen is Eleanor of Aquitaine.  The King is her son, Richard the Lionhearted.  No one knows the whereabouts of Richard.  It is feared that he may be dead.  If so, his brother John may claim the throne.

Justin takes it upon himself to deliver the letter to the Queen.  Before delivering the letter, he reads it.  He discovers that Richard is alive and being held for ransom. 

Eleanor is impressed with Justin's courage and honesty.  She makes him a Queen's Man and asks him to investigate the murder.  She wishes to know if the killing was ordered by John, or another of the enemies of England.

As Justin investigates the murder, he finds that several of the victim's family had motives for his death.  Justin also finds himself more embroiled in the intrigues of court politics.  Along the way he finds friendship, love, and betrayal from some unlikely sources.

Will Justin solve the murder, and prove himself worthy of being a Queen's Man?

I found this novel to be an enjoyable read.  Penman's description of life in England in the 12th century seem accurate and realistic.  The characters have realistic personalities with good and bad sides.  And the plot, like real life, doesn't end with a perfect solution.

Overall, a nice enjoyable read.

The Queen's Man

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