Having given a mixed review to book 1 in the series, I turned to book 2 with no great expectations. As a mystery novel, it's no great shakes. I didn't really care who had murdered a pair of mediaeval Oxfordshire peasants, so the resolution of the crime left me cold.There weren't very many suspects to choose from, so the solution didn't come as much of a surprise.
But from a social history point of view, the book is fascinating. The light shed on everyday life in different levels of society was for me the most interesting aspect of the book. I had never really thought, for instance, about the differences in diet between servants working in a castle and peasants toiling in the fields. I presume the author has researched the social background of the period. He has certainly been reading mediaeval cookery books as we are given endless details of just about every meal our hero consumes.
As for the language of the peasants, it has shifted from the "Trooble at t'mill" pseudo-Yorkshire dialect of book 1 to a risible cod yokel of the " 'E be dead, 'e be" variety. What I found irksome in the first book became increasingly hilarious in book 2. I suppose allowances have to be made for an American author with no ear for the nuances of British dialect. Besides, in 15th c Oxfordshire NOBODY would have spoken as they do today, so in a sense all the dialogue is "pretend".
This sounds like a totally negative review, but it's not. The hero Hugh de Singleton is self-deprecating and rather appealing, and the plot, while not exciting, is interesting enough to make a good read, and the historical background fascinating. Another 3 out of 5.