Shazza Maddog's Reviews > Murder at the War: A Modern-Day Mystery With a Medieval Setting

Murder at the War by Mary Monica Pulver
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Apr 02, 12

Read from March 28 to April 01, 2012

Lord Stefan and Lady Katherine are members of the medieval recreation group known as the Society for Creative Anachronisms and are attending their first Pennsics War (when as many of the group get together for a week of living medieval-y, including foot jousting, fighting in wars, participating in various projects, etc). When Thorstane, a member of the Horde (a loose association of traders, Mongols and the like), accosts Katharine, Stefan knocks him down with a pole arm, earning Thorstane's anger. Thorstane vows to get back at them, but he dies before he can - in the middle of a battlefield with fake weapons, he is stabbed twice and bleeds out before an ambulance can reach him.

As Katherine is the last person to have seen Thorstane - she comes across him as a water-bearer - and due to their altercation the day before - she is the chief suspect. Stefan, mundanely a cop, is given an order by King William to try to solve the mystery of who killed Thorstane, as the local police don't understand the SCA, nor want to look farther than Katherine. The problem is, Thorstane's dying words implicate a mundane - someone not in the SCA - and that makes no sense, because why would a mundane be in the middle of a war?

Reading this book was like going back in time for me as I'd once been a part of the SCA. I could recognize a great many of the people described, and Ms. Pulver's eye for describing an SCA camp, the clothing and the politics were spot on. My problem actually came more with the pacing of the story and what was described and what wasn't. I didn't really feel much tension within the storyline itself, and Pulver didn't really seem to know what to do with Katherine after she'd been accused of murder. Stefan was much better realized as a character, in my opinion, but even he seemed rather static and staid compared to King William and some of the other people populating the story.

The ending is done in a very satisfying style, wrapping up the story nicely. As a look into the SCA, I think it works very well; as a murder mystery, it works okay.
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