Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Service of the Dead (Kate Clifford #1)” as Want to Read:
The Service of the Dead (Kate Clifford #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Service of the Dead

(Kate Clifford #1)

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  318 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Political unrest permeates York at the cusp of the fifteenth century, as warring factions take sides on who should be the rightful king--Richard II or his estranged, powerful cousin in exile, Henry Bolingbroke. Independent minded twenty-year-old Kate Clifford is struggling to dig out from beneath the debt left by her late husband. Determined to find a way to be secure in h ...more
Hardcover, 236 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by Pegasus Books (first published May 2nd 2016)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Service of the Dead, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Service of the Dead

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  318 ratings  ·  83 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
**RATING 4.5**

While I do enjoy reading historical novels, historical mysteries is not a genre that I have much experience of, but I am so glad that I picked up the Kate Clifford series as they really are so descriptive and engrossing. Having devoured the first book, THE SERVICE OF THE DEAD, I immediately jumped into A TWISTED VENGEANCE, and I can happily say that both books are equally as addictive.

In this series, we meet Kate, a young widow, who is desperat
May 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Originally published at Reading Reality

This story has the feeling of beginning in the middle. When the book opens, Katherine Clifford is a young widow in the city of York in 1399. She is attempting, semi-successfully, to carve out an existence as an independent woman, in spite of the machinations of her late husband’s relatives. And most especially she is keeping as much of her plans under wraps as possible in order to protect her late husband’s reputation, as well as her own.

The man seems to ha
Barb in Maryland
May 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
The incredibly stilted prose at the beginning of this book did not entice me to go any further. DNFed at about page 50.
I do not remember the author's Owen Archer books being this poorly written.
The Library Lady
When I was reading Shakespeare in college, long, LONG ago, I actually purchased my one and only Cliff Notes, on "Richard III", simply because I couldn't keep the characters straight. And I felt as if I needed one here.
That's the only way in which I would compare this to Shakespeare, BTW!

I wanted to love this book. It's about York, the War of the Roses, things I know about and am interested in. And yet I didn't love this at all.

Kate is somehow not terribly likeable. I found the paranormal bit w
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
I received this book from a Goodreads Giveaway and I'm glad I did even though it took me a while to get to it! This isn't my typical genre of choosing and it definitely took me at least a quarter of the book to get used to the terminology and titles of the various characters. I'm a big fan of the protagonist, Kate Clifford, here. I felt like I was back in 1399 the way everything was described and even the writing style felt like it belonged in that time. I will be looking forward to the next boo ...more
nikkia neil
This is my new favorite medieval series. Can't wait for the next one. If you like The Midwife mysteries then you will love this series too. Kate is a badass who fights with a battle axe, runs her own life, and takes care of business.
Deanna Madden
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In this historical mystery set in York, England in 1399, Candace Robb immerses you in the world of the late 14th century. Right from the beginning the detail is mind-blowing: the place, the people, the freezing cold winter weather—it all feels so real. And Kate Clifford, who is the novel’s beating heart, is a wonderful creation—a young woman recently widowed who must find a way to cope and prosper or be forced into another marriage with a man not of her choosing. Her precarious position in her s ...more
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Medieval York. Pretty grim place, although Kate Clifford is well-off. I thought perhaps a bit too many characters/too much political intrigue to follow. But the writing is solid and the characters good. Will read further.
Laura Reading
Although I appreciate historical fiction, it has been a while since I have spent time with a really good historical mystery. While I wanted to race through the pages I also wanted to make this book last.
I enjoyed the historical detail and proper language. The writing is excellent. In society there are rules for everything, there is also real life and survival. Kate is of the noble class, but she struggles the same as everyone else, regardless of stature. She has bills to pay and people dependent
Mar 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Set in 1399 York, this series is about Kate, a young widow trying to pay off her late husband's debts and maintain her independence by running a house where wealthy merchants can discreetly meet their mistresses. The setting and premise is interesting but the murder story in this installment didn't work for me. The series of murders and the ultimate solution was a bit convoluted and contrived. Robb is a good writer, however, so I'm open to where she may go with this series.
May 11, 2016 rated it liked it
This historical fiction novel is the beginning of a new mystery series series set in York, England in early 1399.

At this time in history, factions were lining up behind the two claimants of the throne of England: the then-current occupant, Richard II, and Henry of Bolingbroke, the Duke of Lancaster and Richard’s first cousin. The tension between the two had come to a head in 1398, after Richard banished Henry from the kingdom. When Henry’s father died the next year, Richard took away Henry’s au
Candace Robb is another of those writers who has been on my List for a very long time despite the fact that her writing is not my very favorite. Her books are go-tos, reliably good reads when I feel like picking up a book from a certain period, but her characters do not linger with me once the book is put down; it's one of those examples when I feel an invisible barrier between me and the writing. Not sure if this will make sense, but Candace Robb is a writer whose books mean reading someone's w ...more
May 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
I expected to love this. I did love both Emma Campion (same author) historical fiction "strong women" books. This one just didn't hold my interest. I got about a quarter into it, and put it down. So disappointed.
Ellen Dark
Oct 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Set in 1399 York. Lots of snow, slush, and rain. Who killed a stranger in a room normally used by the upper class men to entertain their mistresses? Political intrigue? Kate Clifford investigates. Enjoyed this one and will have to wait for the second in this new series.
This was pretty good, but won't make a lasting impression. A week later and I could barely remember the title. There's really no romance, just a historical/mystery combo. It's set up for sequels but stands on its own. Glad I tried something different, but probably won't read more by this author.
Eustacia Tan
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nlb-ereads
I heard about Candace Robb and her books on the Medievalist podcast, where she appeared to talk about medieval mysteries. Since I love mysteries and I’m visiting York later this year, I knew that I had to read her Kate Clifford series, which are set in medieval York!

The Service of the Dead is the first in the Kate Clifford series and it opens with a body. This puts Kate in a difficult situation because the body was found in the house that she will be renting to Lady Kirkby, who is visiting York
Chris Gifford
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
It seemed like there should be a book before this one, because you have been dropped in the middle of things. There are a lot of characters to keep up with which makes it a little confusing. By the end, you are sure of the main characters.
Set in the 1398 in York England, there is unrest due to King Richard and Henry Bolingbroke, his nephew and heir. It seems Henry is in a hurry to ascend the throne and King Richard is thinking of changing his heir. In the midst of this is a widow originally f
As you can read from the synopsis 20-year-old Kate Clifford doesn't have an easy life, her late husband left her a mess and she is determined to make it on her own in a male-dominated society. What she doesn't expect is to find a dead body in her rooming house. There are more surprises for Kate in The service of the Dead as she tries to unravel who this person is and why he was killed.

Even though it took me a little bit to get invested in the story I found myself rooting for Kate and donning my
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was so pleased to see a new medieval mystery series by one of my favorite authors! I absolutely loved her Owen Archer books and was really sad to see them stop. This series is also set in medieval York and features Kate Clifford, a young widow struggling to stay afloat and keep certain secrets from certain powerful people. When a brutal murder occurs in her guest house, she must act quickly to avoid scandal and reprisals from her devious, meddling brother-in-law, who wishes nothing more than t ...more
Amy Bradley
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Set in York, 1399. A young widow, Kate, is attempting to keep afloat after discovering her husband's insolvency, while raising his two bastard children. With a brother-in-law intent on cheating her in her share of a business partnership (or see her married off, with her share in the business reverting to him), she has a few properties around the city. One of them she runs as a guest house for men of good standing in the city to entertain their mistresses. Complications arise when her cousin arra ...more
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
This sounded like it would be right up my alley, but I was bored and did not end up finishing this.

There's a dead body found in Kate's guest house right at the beginning of the book, so you would think that would make things exciting and interesting . . . not so much.

Once the body is discovered, instead of things ramping up they seem to slow down. We hear about Kate's difficult relationships with her extended family, we hear about the King's bad behaviour and in-fighting with those around him, w
Lucy Barnhouse
I was disappointed in this book, having very much enjoyed Robb's Apothecary Rose series. The Wars of the Roses make for dense background, of course, but they seemed to weigh down this narrative without giving it much sense of urgency. The whole novel is also very expository... when conversations DO happen, they're unfailingly analyzed (internally) by Kate, the main protagonist. I just never felt the plot found its stride (or I never found my stride within it.) I like the cat burglar and ex-assas ...more
First in a new medieval mystery series set in York, England in the 14th century.
Kate Clifford is a wealthy young widow who has been saddled with her late husbands debts and also the two young French children of her late husband's late mistress. While coping with her complicated household, she tries to maintain her independence, while everybody wants to see her married off again. A man is murdered in one of her properties, and she must solve the murder before it exposes her unusual source of inco
Cynthia Fry
Mar 31, 2018 rated it liked it
The historical detail of living in a city during a transitional period is very interesting. I liked the main character and those that she surrounded herself with. Their are scenes that are detailed with a little bit of gore that may be difficult for some people. The only problem I had was toward the end, there are many peripheral characters that made it difficult to follow. I could no longer tell the importance to the main character and if they were an ally or foe. I would be interested in readi ...more
Mary Robinson
A solid medieval mystery with a wonderful heroine, who, because she is a widow, has the freedom and financial independence necessary for solving crimes. Kate is strong and smart but she faces a lot of challenges to hold her household and businesses together and that is all portrayed in a pretty realistic way. And, best of all, she has two great wolf hounds that are her secret weapons against all the trouble that comes her way.

Aug 25, 2018 rated it did not like it
I enjoyed the author's Owen Archer series, but I had to struggle to keep reading this book so that I could at least give it a chance at redemption (which never came). There were too many characters and I had to create a listing on my laptop just to keep track of who was who. I also found Kate's dialog with her dead brotherto be distracting and unnecessary, similar to Hamish in the Ian Rutledge series, as another reader commented.
Kristyn Stimach
Apr 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Just finished The Service of the Dead and am starting A Twisted Vengeance. It took me about five chapters to really get into this book. There's so much information and characters that it was hard to keep everything straight at first. I am happy I stayed with it and ended up really enjoying this novel and looking forward to seeing what the second one has in store for me.
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoy historically set books but, I haven't read many historically set books that are full of suspense, thrill, and edge. When you first open the book, you are dropped into an already unfolding story that grabs you from the beginning. The story unfolds at a roller-coaster pace which keeps thew reader pulled in and excited to find out how a certain scene is going to play out and what is going to happen next. I love Robb's writing. Her writing is cohesive and imaginative. She made me feel ...more
Oct 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle-edition
I liked this. Kate is quite a gal. Hard and cynical and soft too. In her time she may have been accused of witchcraft, a single woman of property, but she's resourceful and surrounded by people that help protect her. I really liked Candace Robb's new heroine and we'll see how the next in the series goes before I commit.
Daniella Bernett
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Betrayals, courtly machinations, old family feuds and murder provide a heady dose of intrigue. Kate Clifford is a strong and intelligent heroine. "The Service of the Dead" is a rich and satisfying story that will captivate the reader's attention.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 2 Jan 14, 2016 09:57AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Eloquence of Blood (Charles Du Luc, #2)
  • Serpent in the Thorns (Crispin Guest, #2)
  • Murder in a Cornish Alehouse (A Mistress Jaffrey Mystery #3)
  • My Lady Judge (Burren Mysteries, #1)
  • Blood Never Dies (Bill Slider,#15)
  • The Age of Treachery (Duncan Forrester Mystery #1)
  • The Virgin's War (Tudor Legacy #3)
  • The Tomb of Zeus (Laetitia Talbot, #1)
  • It Had to Be You (Grace & Favor, #5)
  • Death in the Dark Walk (John Rawlings, #1)
  • The Abyssinian Proof (Kamil Pasha, #2)
  • Cold Cruel Winter (Richard Nottingham, #2)
  • Murder in All Honour (New Scotland Yard/Doyle and Acton, #5)
  • Murder in Grub Street (Sir John Fielding, #2)
  • The Case of the Deadly Doppelganger (Dr Ribero's Agency of the Supernatural #2)
  • The Red Velvet Turnshoe (Abbess of Meaux, #2)
  • A Deadly Penance (Templar Night Mystery #6)
  • Red Rose, White Rose
See similar books…

Storyteller, mythweaver, author of the Owen Archer, Kate Clifford, & Margaret Kerr mysteries. Primary residence, medieval York.

I blog about writing, medieval history, writing women's stories, and feature new scholarship in my field at, and share loads of medieval news, folklore, and whimsy on my facebook page, Candace Robb

Other books in the series

Kate Clifford (3 books)
  • A Twisted Vengeance (Kate Clifford #2)
  • A Murdered Peace (Kate Clifford #3)