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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cruel as the Grave by Sharon Kay Penman

Genre: Historical Mystery

Setting: England, 1193 AD

First Sentence: They were intimate enemies, bound by blood.

This book is the second in Penman's Queen's Man series.

Our main character is Justin de Quincy.  The queen he serves is Eleanor of Aquitaine.  Justin has done well for himself.  He was raised as a foundling not knowing who his parents were.  Now he serves in the court of the queen.  She calls him to perform certain dangerous duties.

In this book we have two parallel plots.  The queen's favored son, Richard the Lionheart, is imprisoned.  It is possible that he may already be dead.  The queen's less favored son, John, wants to be king.  Justin is asked by the queen to undertake a dangerous mission which night avoid a bloody civil war.

In London, Justin is asked to investigate the death of a young woman.  A mercer's sons are involved in the murder.  The mercer's favored son had been seeing the girl.  But the mercer's less favored son is accused of the crime.  Justin must discover the true identity of the murderer.  If he fails, the wrong man may go to the gallows.

Will Justin succeed in aiding the Queen to avoid a war between her sons?

Will Justin find justice for the victim and her family?

I found this book to be a very pleasurable read.  Although I had figured out "who dun it" pretty early in the story, the author piqued my interest by trying to lead me astray.  In the end, the author tied up all the lose ends in a favorable conclusion.  I liked this book.


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