*Idylls of the Queen* is so much more than a good murder mystery. It is a good murder mystery, but unlike an ordinary mystery, you can reread it, even knowing whodunit, without any of the fun being spoiled. The mystery is sort of a backdrop to the real show--which is yet another new take on the personalities of Arthurian legend, and a different look at chivalric ideals.
The narrator is the oft-maligned Sir Kay, the grouchy but well-meaning seneschal of Arthur's court. He's not a bad guy. He *is* a sarcastic curmudgeon, but that's because he's seen so many self-serving buffoons win glory and adulation while his own hard work goes unnoticed. He is also secretly in love with the Queen. Kay shares an uneasy friendship with a wonderfully written, morbid, fatalistic, and somehow sympathetic Sir Mordred. Together they set out to clear Guenevere's name of the murder charges, meeting fascinating characters right and left. Morgan and Iblis are especially engaging, and Karr puts some deep words into their mouths. Morgan's defense of her mixed Christian and pagan ways cuts right to the heart of things, and Iblis's observation that justice is different for women than for men, is shocking just because it is so true of the times.
If you're an Arthurian buff, read this book. It's a quick read, and a great way to spend a lazy afternoon or two.