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The Red Velvet Turnshoe (Abbess of Meaux Mystery 2) [Hardcover]

Cassandra Clark
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Mar 2009 Abbess of Meaux Mystery 2

Black February in the year 1383: rain started to fall before Martinmas, sweeping through France, Flanders and Tuscany, and barely ceased all year. Floods brought famine. Famine brought disease. The Black Death bestowed its grace on town after town. Bodies were piled in open pits. The lime was spread. Paris shut its gates; Cologne and Florence followed suit.

Into this watery world, against a background of plague and the political turmoil of the Hundred Years War, the nun Hildegard is sent across Europe in search of a precious relic, the Cross of Constantine. Strong-willed and independent, she will need remarkable skills to survive such a dangerous quest. For with the English Crown at stake there are many who want her mission to fail - and one, above all, who plans a deadly revenge . . .

Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; First Edition; 1st printing. edition (5 Mar 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 1848540299
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848540293
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.7 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 504,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Cassandra Clark was born in the East Riding of Yorkshire where she grew up in a village near the ancient medieval market town of Beverley. For several years she wrote scripts for the theatre,radio and television as well as contemporary fiction while tutoring at the Open University. She won a Directors' Guild Award for a stage play and ran a lunch-time theatre in a Tudor inn in York. She is now writing a series of historical detective novels set in the time of Richard II,featuring a nun sleuth, Hildegard of Meaux,and her sidekick Brother Thomas. The Gothic Yorkshire landscape and crumbling medieval monasteries are the context for Hildegard's sleuthing adventures into the dark side of medieval political rivalries.

Product Description


The 14th century is a fine backdrop for Clark's Abbess of Meaux series ...Clark's worldly nun has a degree of freedom other women of the period wouldn't have enjoyed and her arduous journey across the Alps is presented in convincing detail (Sunday Times)

'Really engrossing storyline ... a real joy to read... I didn't want this book to end and I will have no hesitation in including it in my top five best reads of 2009. May this author write many more novels of this high quality in the future' (Eurocrime)

'Clark's central character is certainly memorable, and the story woven around her in this, the second of the author's Abbess of Meaux mysteries, is well plotted and meticulously researched ... this unusual murder mystery is a fascinating read ... a great addition to the sleuthing fraternity!' (Press Association)

'Cleverly plotted, this is a gripping novel full of twists and turns, bright with colour and fascinating period detail that brings a turbulent period of history to life' (Choice Magazine)

'Every bit as absorbing as the first ... Clark is proving highly adept at bringing medieval history to life, and The Red Velvet Turnshoe adds considerably to her growing reputation' (Yorkshire Evening Post)

'Reader are taken on a perilous journey through Flanders and France over the Alps through St Bernard Pass onto Florence, all the time threatened by spies and killers determined to stop her' (Folkestone Herald & Dover Express)

'Clark's central character is certainly memorable ... well plotted and meticulously researched ... this highly unusual murder mystery is a fascinating read' (Dundee Courier & Advertiser)

'Hildegard is back! ... this is a well-written historical tale, with a depth of detail which allows the reader to immerse themselves in the fourteenth century ... the book skilfully weaves a complex plot with the rich period background and brings the whole story to life with vivid descriptions and a cast of roguish characters ... highly recommended' (Mystery Woman)

Priase for the first in the Abbess of Meaux series, Hangman Blind (---)

Clark capably draws out the turmoil of rebellion and fealty boiling under Richard II's insecure, juvenile reign, while giving Hildegard plenty of scope to poke her nose the violence engulfing the de Hutton dynasty (Financial Times)

Cassandra Clark's prose is flawless (Daily Telegraph)

'Hildegard is an engaging protagonist, sensible, kindly, resourceful and believable; she is also endearing susceptible to a pair of Saxon blue eyes (Ulf) and Norman grey ones (Hubert). Fans of historical crime will relish this' (Joanna Hines, Guardian)

A strong novel about how denying the past can destroy lives (Sunday Age)

'A promising new heroine' (Diplomat)

'The political background is intriguing and Hildegard is a strong and likeable heroine with a big future' (Huddersfield Daily Examiner)

'The quality of research in this novel is obviously of the highest order and one can only look forward to the next in the series.' (East Riding News)

'History leaps out of the pages in vibrant colours, danger is at every hand, mystery piles upon mystery and you willingly succumb to the enticement of Cassandra Clark's writing' (Northern Echo)

'Clark delivers a medieval whodunnit which is both delicate and dangerous, reeking of lust, treachery, greed and violence and which keeps the reader at least one step behind' (Northern Echo)

'Hangman Blind is a brilliant book which I thoroughly enjoyed - not just because it's set in 1382 with all the richness of that period, but because it's so well written' (BFK Books)

'A well written and engaging story' (Euro Crime (online))

'The strength of the book...is in the quality of the historical imagination and the attempt at integrating the political and social situation into the plot' (Reviewing the Evidence (online))

'Clark is one of the most sure-footed practitioners of this difficult genre.' (The Independant)

Book Description

An Abbess of Meaux mystery

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disjointed and bewildering tale 6 Aug 2011
I love historical novels, especially ones with mystery, murder and a journey thrown in. It's a long wait between CJ Sansom's books, and, very sadly, Ariana Franklin has died, so I was quite excited to come across this.
But it turned out to be a very frustrating and bewildering read. I have to admit that I haven't read the first one, Hangman Blind (Abbess of Meaux Mystery 1), but I firmly believe that any book worth its salt should be able to stand alone. This author assumes rather too much about her readers' knowledge of the characters, both fictional and real, and the period - if you don't already know about the politics of Richard II's England, you might feel a bit lost and alienated in this world.
It's a very choppy narrative, you hop from Yorkshire, to the Alps, to Italy and back again, and nothing is linked together. New characters pop up everywhere, sometimes with a big build-up (like the sinister Italian countess), only to simply disappear again for no particular reason. Some of the relationships are downright weird - I never understood what exactly Hildegard felt for the strange minstrel Pierrekyn, for instance.
I found Hildegard to be a very unsatisfactory heroine altogether. Compare her to a similar sort of character, Ariana Franklin's Adelia, to see what I mean. Unlike Adelia, it's hard to root for Hildegard or even visualise her, and I kept losing sight of why her life was in such danger all the time. And it's not a good sign when you have to re-read the ending twice, to work out the significance of what's just happened.
In short, this book fails the plot test.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Red Velvet Turnshoe 1 April 2009
Ms Clarke certainly knows her stuff.
If you thought Hangman blind was good, read this next one in the Trilogy.
It really takes you into the world of intrigue and dark mystery of Medieval times.
Such wonderful descriptions of life at the time of the Political turmoils of the reign of Richard the second.
A thoroughly good and exciting read!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great premise, disappointing execution 17 Jun 2011
I was intrigued by the blurb of this novel, but I have to confess my expectations were disappointed. As a character, Hildegard seems somewhat lacking. She's nice, and shows courage when required, but...more of an automaton than a human being. She's perhaps a little too good, a little too much the victim of circumstance. I don't rightly know why an assassin would bother trailing halfway across Europe after her. Despite having not one but three admirers in the book, she seems oblivious to all of it. And it would undoubtedly have helped if I'd read the first book in the series, because the number of characters introduced towards the end becomes bewildering. I could forgive that if it weren't for a meandering plot with a fizzer of an ending. One minute Hildegard's going to Rome, then the next she gets a letter telling her it's Florence, with no explanation. Sidelines go absolutely nowhere. What of Pierrekyn's antecedents? Who the hell is the shadowy Countess in Florence? She seems like a major player, only to make a brief and ultimately toothless cameo. And virtually everybody takes a turn as the possible murderer, throwing out threatening and elliptical comments for no apparent reason, simply to add to the atmosphere of menace. A bit more about the cross, the supposed crux - aha - of the story, would have been nice too.

In my estimation there are far better medieval murder mysteries out there, including Ariana Franklin, 'Death and the Devil' by Frank Schatzing, and (getting into Tudor times) C J Sansom. But it's early days for Hildegard, and maybe future books will improve.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Medieval daring do 26 April 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having read the first book, I bought the second as soon as I saw that it was published and found it a thoroughly enjoyable read. As well as the mystery element, I very much like the feeling of history and what it was like to be alive in that period. I shall be eagerly awaiting the next installment.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stimulating read 1 Jun 2009
By Netty
The second novel in a series. This novel is an excellently researched, fast moving narrative which is well written. I hope Cassandra Clark is well advanced with another episode.
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