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The Harper's Quine (Gilbert Cunningham, #1)
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The Harper's Quine (Gil Cunningham #1)

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  460 ratings  ·  50 reviews
When newly qualified lawyer Gil Cunningham finds the body of a young woman in Glasgow Cathedral he is asked to investigate. He identifies the corpse as a woman he recognized at the May Day dancing in Glasgow Cross, the runaway wife of the cruel and unpleasant nobleman John Semphill. With Maistre Pierre, a French master mason involved in a new building at the Cathedral, Gil ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published July 26th 2004 by Carroll & Graf (first published January 1st 2004)
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Community Reviews

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Sarai
Gil Cunningham is a medieval Scottish man tasked with investigating the death of a harper's woman. Learned in law and intended for the church, he is reasonable and does not jump to conclusions. With help from a mason (who has a lively, lovely, single daughter), Gil solves the crime - and finds himself a bride.

This is the first in a series, the rest of which I have not yet read. I was interested to see if I could find something kind of similar to the Cadfael series, but I am not a fan of medieval
...more
Aoife
I am somewhat conflicted about this book. The characters were really great. Gil and Alys both have somewhat modern views views for their time but not so extreme that you feel like a 21st centutry person fell through time and is now enraged by the treatment of the poor/women/children or holds speeches about how capital punisment is wrong.
The mystery itself was quite well done, too. I did figure out who did it about halfway-through but I had no idea about the why and figuring out that together wit
...more
Dorian
This is another book that I picked up because a friend enjoyed it. It's a murder mystery, set in late 15th-century Glasgow, a time and place about which I know pretty much nothing. Which is probably a good thing, because if there are any anachronisms I didn't notice them.

The setting is, in fact, very well drawn; I felt I was seeing a good picture of medieval Glasgow and its habits and customs. Characterisation is strong too, with even the minor characters clearly delineated. And the plot...yes,
...more
Jeannen
Not sure how I heard of Pat McIntosh – possibly one of the Amazon “customers who bought this also bought…” lists. I wasn’t sure I was going to like the first one because of the use of dialect, some of which I still haven’t been able to figure out from the context, but once I got used to it, I really enjoyed it “The harper’s quine” and then went on to “The Nicholas feast.” I am lost in the Scots politics of Campbells and Montgomerys and Hamiltons and Cunninghams – maybe I need to read a history o ...more
Elizabeth
This was a quick light mystery set in medieval Glasgow. The main character is a young lawyer, well he's 26 but he reads relatively young. He also comes across as smart and wise so young does not equate to immature. He's still trying to figure out the next steps in his life which seem to be becoming a priest so he has some income. Apparently it isn't common at this time and place in history to make money as a lawyer.

A young woman is killed and it's tragic. She was a good person who had been done
...more
Ronda
Enjoyed reading this, but was really glad to be reading a ePub edition. I used the dictionary feature in Overdrive a LOT and sometimes had to go to the "search Wikipedia" option. I have a feeling that I would have enjoyed the book even more were I more well versed in Scottish and "Ersche" dialects and history. I ended up skimming over the parts,that got bogged down in dialect or foreign language phrase (much as I did in "The DaVinci Code"). That said, I enjoyed the characters, the descriptions, ...more
Cheryl
This was quite a surprise and a much tougher read than I was in the mood for at the time. BUT, I persisted and was mightily rewarded. The history packed into this is amazing and the use of Scottish dialect and old middle English adds to the realistic local feel of this story. Gil Cunningham is studying law in 1400s Scotland, headed for the priesthood because his family backed the wrong royal, and reliant upon the generosity of his uncle. When a woman is found dead within the church grounds, Gil ...more
Maureen E
by Pat McIntosh

I picked this one up at a recent public library trip after a recommendation from Deb. I was hoping for a satisfying mystery with interesting characters and a clearly drawn setting. I definitely found all of that here.

Gil Cunningham, a young man struggling with his desire to do right by his family and his knowledge that he is not fitted for the priesthood, discovers a dead body. Because the body is on the grounds of Glasgow Cathedral, of which his uncle is a Canon, he is given the
...more
Kate
Murder in the cathedral in medieval Glasgow
At the May Day dancing at Glasgow Cross, Gilbert Cunningham, notary-in-training, see not only the woman who is going to be murdered, but her murderer as well.
Gil is a recently qualified lawyer who family still expect him to enter the priesthood. When he finds the body of a young woman in the new building at Glasgow Cathedral he is asked to investigate -- she turns out to have been the May Day harper's mistress and runaway wife of cruel nobleman John Sem
...more
Debbi
I know I am smitten by a good story if it has me seeking out more information on the time or place (Wikipedia has not been helpful this time, however).

Even though I figured out who the murderer was by the middle of the book, it was still quite enjoyable watching Maister Gil untangle the knot too. While I knew "who", I didn't quite figure out "why" until our protagonist did. Intertwined with the story is Gil who is given the duty to ferret out the murderer. He's a newly minted lawyer and on the t
...more
Kate
Lovely, lovely, lovely 15th century Scotland-set mystery with lots of history and a good solid set of murders. Our detective has studied to be a lawyer and is destined for the priesthood (with some misgivings.) Our victim is a noble woman who ran away from her abusive husband and took up with a blind harper. The cast is full of interesting secondary characters and the setting is painted magnificently: even the bits about canon law were interesting. The characterization isn't as good as Ellis Pet ...more
Kathy Scott
Enjoying this series very much. When you need to escape to medieval Scotland, this is the way to do it. Characters are nicely drawn. Plots are a little generic and sometimes drags a little, but the period details are lovely. I always find myself speaking in a Scots brogue after reading one of these.
Sandy Shin
A very enjoyable look at life in Scotland in 1490+, I was fascinated by the roles of Catholic Church, University trained lawyers, the Stewart royal line and ho the law applied to various levels of society.

Since finishing this book, I've gone on to read the next three and find n let up on the quality of the writing, the development of characters or the attractiveness of the stories.

The most startling discovery is the sophistication of the investigative approach. Other authors (Margaret Frazer, Pe
...more
Suzanne
Quality recreational reading. McIntosh includes just enough Medieval vocabulary and dialect to establish the atmosphere and characters, but not so much that the modern reader cannot follow the dialogue and story. In this work, at least, she does not fall into the Ellis Peters trap of giving her protagonist modern values and attitudes. Although Gilbert Cunningham is more liberal and progressive than most of the other characters, he is still a Medieval man. The resolution to the mystery is obvious ...more
Lexie Conyngham
I thoroughly enjoyed this. The settin gwas convincing, and what must have been detailed research was used with a light touch and a clear sense of affection for the background. characters were well-drawn and sympathetic, and the hero particularly interesting in his scholarship and indecision about his future. I found the conversations witty and realistic and the plot was complex and convincing. Anyone concerned by the Scots or Gaelic terms will find they are smoothly explained in the text (along ...more
Mckayd229
Not sure how I came across this author but greatly enjoy these Medieval mysteries that take place in Scotland.
Maryann
I discovered this author when I noticed a new Ravelry group about the Gil Cunningham mysteries. They're quite different, set in 15th century Glasgow. They feel real to the period, though I know nothing about the period. Love the characters so far. There are several books in the series, so I have hours of enjoyment ahead. They're not real easy reads, tons of details, unfamiliar terms. The mystery itself was interesting, I had no idea who done it until the end. The author herself is active in the ...more
Kay
Love this book but need to learn more about this era of Scottish history. The characters are well-written and we learn their history in a natural way as a reasonable part of the story. The plot was engaging and enough red herrings exist to keep a reader on her toes.

The only thing that kept this from being a five-star book for me is that I would have enjoyed it much more with either a glossary or an afterword explaining a bit more about the social mores and political climate in Scotland. A pronu
...more
Diana Sandberg
Excellent. Set in late-15th century Glasgow; I liked pretty much everything about this one, the characters, the plotting, the setting, all good. I even liked the romance – not too much, not too soppy, but sweet, and I liked the hero’s friendship with the girl’s father. There was some discussion online about the amount of Scots included; apparently the author’s publisher is highly resistant to such verbal oddities, and simultaneously refuses to include a glossary. Tsk. After the discussion, I was ...more
Jina Howell-Forbes
Feb 11, 2013 Jina Howell-Forbes rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 12th Century novels
Shelves: o-k-but-ho-hum
It took me longer than usual to finish this book. I liked it, but nothing held me particularly, and it was easy to take frequent breaks to read something else. I like Gil, the main character, and I wanted a good outcome for him, but the writing was slow and pedantic. I might continue with the series if I run low on other things to read, but I have decided that I don't like stories quite that far back in history.

The Hugh De-Singleton, surgeon series has many similarities to this Gil Cunningham s
...more
Heidi
Nice enough little read, gives a good insight into to me hitherto unknown medieval Glasgow and the power-struggles between the noble Scottish families. Not too transparent mystery that keeps you guessing for a while (although most of the time I was preoccupied trying to get a handle on the geographical layout o medieval Glasgow - but that's possibly just me!). All in all an enjoyable although not too taxing read.

PS: would recommend to read the series in sequence!
Mary
I am always sorry to end one of the Gil Cunningham murder mysteries, and find myself thinking myself back into Glasgow in the MIddle Ages. This is the first book in the series, which I have read completely out of order and that has been all right. I have a whole list now of Scots words that I seek definition for, and that may satisfy my yearning for Cunningham's milieu until I get my hands on the next book that I have yet to read.
Cheryl
Murder mystery set in 15th century Glasgow, Scotland. Gil Cunningham a recently qualified lawyer is asked to investigate the murder of the estranged wife of a cruel nobleman. Gil is also struggling to decide his own future, whether to become a priest as his family expects or to forgo the church. An interesting mystery that portrays the historical setting accurately (?) but I had to have the dictionary handy with this one.
Andrew Macfarlane
OK Took way to long to start going but in the last 50 pages it picked up and become less onerous. Large number of anachronisms which are not out by a couple of years (excusable) but by centuries (not so).
Donald
I enjoyed the storyline of this book, and the setting up of a host of new characters, but I found the 'authentic' language to be difficult to understand, even from the context. I'm a native Scot! Also I originally picked up another book in this series in my local library as they are set in Glasgow, but to be honest they could be set anywhere, as the medieval city is pretty much unrecognisable apart from a few names.
Becca
This was excellent fun. I enjoyed the mystery, and felt that for the most part, I believed in the world the author set up. Occasionally, the detective-story language took me out of it, but that happened less and less often as the book progressed. I also liked how the story was only incidentally a murder mystery as far as focus goes--the characters were the major part of the story, as was the main character's future.
Jennifer
this was a hard book for me to get through which is why it took me so long to finish. it wasn't interesting enough to entice me to go back to it frequently, but not so boring as to force me to give up on it. setting the murder mystery in medieval times was unique and helped me to keep trodding on to learn who the murderer was. unfortunately, it was proven to be exactly who you guessed within the first chapter.
Jo
Glasgow 1492 and a woman is found murdered on a building site. And thus begins the search for her killer by Gil Cunningham, lawyer and priest to be, and Peter Mason, master builder. I love a good medieval murder mystery and this one proved gripping and entertaining although some of the Scots language I couldnae understand. Will definitely be seeking out the following books in the series.
Gill Hodder
Having finished this in five days, I have been inspired to buy the rest of the series for my Kindle, the next 8 books for a total of £6.72, an absolute bargain.
Chris
This was a holiday read for me, so I was pleasantly surprised to find it so well crafted. The characters were very human within the formality of medieval Glasgow. The plot was engaging as the details of the case emerged until the conclusion. I'm looking forward to following Gil & Alys through more mysteries.
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184432
McIntosh was born and raised in Lanarkshire, Scotland. Having begun to write at age seven, she credits the author who inspired her to write as "probably Angus MacVicar!" She lived and worked in Glasgow for many years before moving to the west coast of Scotland. Prior to making her mark as an author, she worked as "a librarian, a receptionist for an alternative therapy centre, taught geology and pa ...more
More about Pat McIntosh...

Other Books in the Series

Gil Cunningham (10 books)
  • The Nicholas Feast (Gilbert Cunningham, #2)
  • The Merchant's Mark (Gilbert Cunningham, #3)
  • St Mungo's Robin (Gil Cunningham, #4)
  • The Rough Collier (Gilbert Cunningham, #5)
  • The Stolen Voice (Gilbert Cunningham, #6)
  • A Pig of Cold Poison (Gil Cunningham, #7)
  • The Counterfeit Madam (Gil Cunningham, #8)
  • The Fourth Crow (Gil Cunningham, #9)
  • The King's Corrodian (Gil Cunningham, #10)
The Nicholas Feast (Gilbert Cunningham, #2) The Merchant's Mark (Gilbert Cunningham, #3) St Mungo's Robin (Gil Cunningham, #4) The Rough Collier (Gilbert Cunningham, #5) The Stolen Voice (Gilbert Cunningham, #6)

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