Catherine Thompson's Reviews > Cruel as the Grave

Cruel as the Grave by Sharon Kay Penman
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May 02, 11

Read from April 28 to May 01, 2011 — I own a copy, read count: 1

The second Justin de Quincy mediaeval mystery from renowned historical novelist Sharon Kay Penman focuses on the murder of a pedlar's daughter. Fifteen-year-old Melangell was found dead in a churchyard. The obvious culprit: Daniel Aston, black-sheep son of Humphrey, a well-to-do mercer. Agnes, one of the women who nursed Justin after his near-fatal encounter with Gilbert the Fleming (in *The Queen's Man*) and Daniel's aunt, begs Justin to investigate.

The mystery is played out against the backdrop of Prince John's rebellion against his mother Queen Eleanor, and Justin is also commissioned by Her Grace to deliver a message to her wayward son at Windsor, which is under siege at the time.

I liked this one as a mystery better than the first one--there was less info-dumping, and apart from the mission to Windsor, it focused more on the investigation into Melangell's death. As well, there was more development of Justin as a character, which I enjoyed. I quite like Justin. He is very much an Everyman: not outstandingly clever like a Sherlock Holmes, able to put himself into the places of the people he investigates.
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