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on 20 September 2014
This is my first attempt at this long-running series which has won a lot of fans.
I like a medieval murder mystery, but a convincing historical setting isn't enough, the rules for a good whodunnit still apply: there has to be an interesting protagonist to root for and a decent plot with a bit of a twist at the end.
Although this one didn't quite deliver these things for me, there's a lot to admire about it: the author doesn't rely on introducing any real-life historical characters, which is brave and unusual. And he's done a lot of research to recreate a convincing early 14th century world in which Sir Baldwin and his companion, Bailiff Simon, stumble upon a murder in a Cornish village on their way home from pilgrimage.
Unfortunately I found all the characters to be very unsympathetic and two-dimensional: I had to keep referring to the cast list right to the end, never a good sign. The dialogue is slow and wooden, and everyone sounds the same (and when you're not particularly enjoying a book, the occasional lapse - would you be invited to lunch in the middle ages? - grates more than it should).
Finally the murderer is revealed, to no great surprise, and the protagonists continue on their journey and to their next case. Ho-hum.
However, I really wanted to like this series, so I'll probably give him another try.