Customer Review

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Visions of the future for England's King John., 26 Mar 2014
This review is from: The Winter King (A Hawkenlye Mystery) (Hardcover)
In the autumn of 1211, wealthy lords and barons around Tonbridge are plotting and planning ways to overthrow England's King John. Some are more than willing to even use an old woman who has begun to see visions of the future of the king to stir up resentment against John personally and especially his struggles for power with Pope Innocent. While in a trance Lila speaks of John as being The Winter King. In working for King John, Benedict de Vitre has been brutal and unrelenting in his collection of taxes for the king, making himself wealthy in the process. Could he be skimming money for himself from the taxes he has collected? When de Vitre is found dead at his own feast many people take it for granted he died because of his excessive love of food and wine. After all, he had been warned that his heart might not be able to stand much more of his high living. At least one person, though, is definitely worried. Sabin de Gifford, the wife of the sheriff of Tonbridge, is the apothecary for the town and also a healer, but she will have to have the help of someone with more knowledge to understand what might have actually happened to cause the death of Lord Benedict de Vitre.

If you are already a follower of this series of historical mysteries, you will be glad to see all the characters together again. Josse d'Acquin and Helewise, the former abbess of Hawkenlye Abbey, and their entire extended family are at the House in the Woods. Josse is glad to have his daughter Meggie back close at hand. These characters have all played their parts in previous novels and are by now well developed by the author. I liked how the descriptions of the living conditions felt so correct for the period and yet were not so over-emphasized that they overwhelmed the story line. The plotting was tight and the motivations of the characters was easy to understand and be convinced of. This story takes place over a short period of time with the result of multiple deaths and yet those deaths do go toward explaining the actions of several characters. There is an atmosphere of the supernatural connected with Meggie which is quite interesting to find in a mystery novel, but it is kept firmly rooted in her heritage and fits well into the beliefs of this time period.

I enjoyed this novel very much because of the excellent writing done by Alys Clare. If you haven't read any other novels by this author, this book is a really good place to start. Even though it is part of a series it is very easy to start here and understand the relationships of all those involved in the story. Of course there is some backstory involved, but the author has done a very good job of integrating the information new readers will need to feel comfortable with their first experience with this set of characters while not causing returning fans to be frustrated by repetition. This novel is definitely recommended if you enjoy historical mysteries of this time period.

I received an ARC of this novel through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are my own.
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