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Cruel as the Grave (Justin de Quincy #2)

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3.91  ·  Rating details ·  2,774 Ratings  ·  111 Reviews
In 1193 England, Eleanor of Aquitaine searches vainly for her eldest son, imprisoned by his enemies, while her youngest plots to capture the crown. In her service is young Justin de Quincy, the Queen's Man, who is called upon to investigate the death of a young peddler's daughter.
Hardcover
Published November 5th 1998 by Michael Joseph Ltd (first published 1998)
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Amanda
May 27, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: blog
This is one of those "I have no idea what compelled me to buy this book" discoveries on my bookshelves. It very clearly states on the front "A Medieval Mystery." Now, the only thing I hate more than a mystery is the Medieval time period. The wimples, the tonsures, the Lord this, Lady that, the tunics, the mutton, the mead, dear God, the drinking of the mead--it's too much bad fashion, bad food, and bad social hierarchies. And heaven forbid there be a sex scene because I assume everyone in the Me ...more
Laura
This is the second book of the Justin de Quincy series and it's a sequel of "The Queen's Man."

Plot:
The dowager queen is attempting to hold the throne for her beloved son, Richard the Lionheart, held captive by the Holy Roman Emperor, against the machinations of her youngest son, John. A neighbor asks Justin to investigate the death of a young Welsh girl named Melangell. Two brothers from a wealthy mercantile family, nephews of Justin's neighbor, are the chief suspects in the murder. Justin balan
...more
Tara
May 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liked it better than the first one, although the character of Claudine is the biggest detraction from a group of otherwise interesting characters. It's all too easy to get disgusted with Justin for his inexplicable interest in a character that seems to have nothing in her corner but looks and an over-eagerness to hop in the sack with Justin, so the book works better for me in scenes where Justin is interacting with others -- from dangerous John and clever Eleanor to Justin's colleagues and neigh ...more
Abby
Dec 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book 2 in the Justin de Quincy series, Cruel as the Grave find de Quincy doing double duty as the Queen's Man, negotiating between would-be-King John and his mother Eleanor, as well as hunting down the killer of a local Welsh girl who was brutally murdered in a churchyard. The dual mysteries as well as the attention to historic detail kept me riveted. The cast of characters is brilliantly written, from the beautiful and wily Claudine, the tart-tongued Nell, tough-guy Luke, and my favorite, the ...more
Suzanne
The second novel in the Justin de Quincy mystery series, Penman’s Cruel as the Grave is a terrific follow-up. In addition to his work as the Queen’s man, de Quincy helps solve the mystery of a murdered girl. What makes this work so well is Penman’s ability to weave two plots – the fabricated murder with the very real games of political intrigue played out in Queen Eleanor’s household.

With the backdrop of Queen Eleanor trying to keep her son John from usurping the throne away from his captive bro
...more
Deborah Pickstone
Book 2 in the series. Similar review to book 1; Justin is getting into his stride as an agent for the Queen, John makes a few mwahaha! appearances (poor John, so typecast) and the Queen's Tame Wolf gives our hero a few heart-stopping moments. Well crafted, good characterisation - but oh, so short!
Kristen
Another fun medieval mystery from SKP. The only reason I don't give the mysteries 5 stars is because her "real" historical fictions are so incredible and detailed and amazing that I can't in good conscience rate these shorter, less complex books on par with those.

I liked this one better than the previous. I really liked that Justin tried to help solve Melangell's murder on his own time, without orders from Eleanor. Not that I think he would have hesitated--he's a good man. But I liked that he s
...more
Barbara
Jan 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Second in the series, fictional detective a.k.a. "The Queen's Man" Justin de Quincy takes on another side case to his work for Queen Eleanore. The story is set in the historically accurate time period of the political scheming of John while his brother Richard Lionheart was held captive in Austria, and in London, England. Sharon Kay Penman masterfully weaves the fiction into the facts her historian background provides her with... and gives us a peek into the lives of ordinary people of the time. ...more
Peggy
Another very interesting episode in the historical mystery series by Sharon Kay Penman. The series takes place in late 12th century England. Justin de Quincy is The Queen's (Eleanor) Man. Her son, Richard the Lionhearted, is missing in Europe and his brother, Prince John, is plotting to take over the throne. Justin is also pulled into helping a friend's family solve the mysterious death of a 15 year old girl. Penman writes wonderful characters and includes so many details of every day life in Me ...more
Piyali
Mar 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Penman, for me, is such a find!! Her narrative almost had a cinematic quality to it. She did paint pictures with words and made the court of Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and the character of Justin De Quincy very real. The story was gripping and the setting was spectacular. This book not only made me want to read all the historical mysteries featuring De Quincey but also made me curious to read more about the fascinating queen and her dysfunctional family. Sharon Kay Penman is a wonderful find for ...more
Lorena
Much like the first book. I'm finding the mysteries a little obvious and the characterizations a little clunky, so this is probably the last of this series I'll read.
dOnnabud lewis
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As with the first Justin de Quincy novel, Cruel as the Grave is an intriguing mystery set in 12th century London. I always enjoy gaining insights into another place and time, especially when woven into a cunning plot tapestry with memorable characters. This is a great read!

Favorite quotes (1998 hard cover edition):
"The torches sputtered in their wall sconces, sending up wavering fingers of flame." (page 2)

"His treacherous imagination immediately conjured up an image of Claudine in her bath, soft
...more
Peter Reader
The author has created authentic characters in great detail. The side plots try to capture historical events within the mystery, but it seems she spends more time on the side plots than the actual mystery, which is rushed at the end and not a big surprise.
Melanie
Justin de Quincy is back again in the 2nd book of this medieval series. Justin is called upon by a friend to solve the murder of a 15-year old Welsh girl Melangell who was killed in the church graveyard. The accused are two brothers who seem to be hiding something are not helpful in solving the mystery of this young girl. The father also seems to be hiding something. Again Justin has his work cut out for him to find a killer and the reason why.[return][return]It is April 1193 and Justin is summo ...more
Merredith
This is the second book in the Justin de Quincy series. I first read #3, then couldn't find #1, and now read #2. Oddly enough, #3 was easier to read not knowing what'd been going on than this one was, it seemed to refer to book one a lot, and was more of a building sort of book than #3 was. Still, I enjoyed it. This series is set back in midieval times, when King Richard is currently a prisoner and John is plotting to take the throne. Justin, the unrecognized son of a prominent church man, has b ...more
Anna
In all the others work I have read by her, I have found Sharon Kay Penman to be a really engaging storytelling, weaving historical facts seamlessly in with human drama. But in this case I feel like the story was too disjointed. This book is ostensibly about Justin's attempts to figure out who murdered a 15 year old girl in the local cemetery. Justin and the his neighbors on Gracechurch street live an interesting life and are interesting characters in their own right, so I don't know why Penman f ...more
 Olivermagnus
Aug 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the sequel to “The King's Man” Justin de Quincy, bastard son of a highly placed clergyman, continues his job working as an agent for Eleanor of Aquitaine. Her favorite son, Richard the Lionheart, is still held captive by the Holy Roman Emperor as she struggles to keep her youngest son, John, from mounting a rebellion to take over the realm. In a second story line, Justin is asked by his landlady to investigate the murder of a Welsh peddler's daughter. The author does a great job of linking th ...more
Christina
Cruel as the Grave is dubbed as a Medieval mystery set in London, 1193. The novel features Justin deQuincy as the "queen's man." He runs errands and spies for Elanor of Aquitane who is going through a crisis. Elanor's oldest son, Richard (heir to the throne) was captured while on crusade and her younger son John has plans to take over the throne. Justin's job is to travel to Windsor castle to try to calm things down with John. Justin is also asked to investigate a murder (hence the mystery). A y ...more
Christa
May 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Justin de Quincy books are a lot of fun. If you aren't into heavy historical fiction, this may be a good place to dip your toes. Justin functions as a sort of medieval James Bond (less puns), as he operates as the Queen's man during the turbulent days of Richard the Lionheart's reign (specifically, on events in the realm while he's gone on crusade). In this installment, Justin helps to solve a local murder while also running interference in John's intrigues. I always find these books especia ...more
Dolly
Jul 19, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery fans
It's been almost three years since I read the first book in this series. Our previous library system did not carry this next book, and I forgot about it. So I'm glad that I've picked up the Justin de Quincy series again. This book was not quite as thrilling as the first and I think the mystery was easy to solve. But overall, I found the tale to be quite interesting. I like the historical foundation of the story as well as the dialogue dripping with Olde English idioms. I have to give Sharon Kay ...more
Catherine Thompson
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 backdro
...more
Adrienne
Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cruel as the Grave was really good, not super great, but very good. Justin kind of annoyed me with promising everything to everyone. He seemed like the ultimate people-pleaser. I don't really see the reason why the character had to be the Queen's man. The entire John at Windsor plot was useless to me. Although I realize this was to serve as a counter-point to the Humphrey and Melangell families - the royal family was just as and moreso dysfunctional than the citizens, as well as the brother-rela ...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
I'd actually rate this three and a half stars if I could--I enjoyed it more than I did the first book in the series, "The Queen's Man." Part of that might have been because I had just finished Penman's trilogy dealing with Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and was loathe to leave that world. On the other hand, if this isn't rated higher it's because it suffers in comparison to both other historical mysteries and Penman's straight historical fiction. I love her "Sunne in Splendor" and "Here Be Dr ...more
Sabrina
Our boy de Qunicy is at it again only this time he is working on his own little case alongside the Queen's requirements. I found Justin's work with John on Eleanor's behalf suspenseful and fun and I wish this story had been a bigger part of the book than it was. I can't wait to continue with the series - I'm really interested to see how Justin fares with John and possibly Richard.

I'm interested to see Justin's relationship with his father play out a bit more and I was happy to see some interacti
...more
Roger P
The second book in Penman's Justin de Quincy medieval mystery series, which takes place during the time period of Richard I's imprisonment in Austria and John's attempt to take over the throne. Justin is asked to help solve the murder of a peddler's daughter who was the paramour of the son of a local mercer.
Penman writes good characters and dialogue and her knowledge and use of medieval history as a background for the plot is above reproach. What drops this novel at least 1 star for me is the fo
...more
Cinden
Jul 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The good: This book was--unsurprisingly--very much like the first in the series. And again, I enjoyed it as a bit of light reading with some education on the side. Much of the story is set in London as Justin tries to solve the murder of a young woman in his downtime between missions for the queen. We get to see Justin mature a little bit, and we also get to see some recurring characters.

The bad: For me, this book felt a little more disjointed than the first one. It seemed to be two separate st
...more
Mary Diegert
May 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book a lot. It is the 2nd in the Justin De Quincy series, and it is very enjoyable to get to know the characters. I love the medieval setting - it seems like a feat for the author to have done enough research to create the scenery, the details of daily life, and the language of the period. She makes the reader aware of the practical concerns of getting around, communicating with people, making a living, and even methods of perpetrating violence in a world where there are no cars, ...more
Richard Stueber
King Richard Lionheart is languishing in a German prison. His mother Eleanor of Aquitaine has another serious problem. She thinks her unscrupulous son the future King John wants to take over the kingdom. She has her troops led by William Marshal and William Longsword (Longespée) besiege John in Windsor Castle. This is the main historical setting of the novel. The time frame is April-June, 1193.
Eleanor has her fictional agent Justin de Quincy (The Queen's Man) aid in convincing John to surrender
...more
Kathryn Bashaar
As with Penman's other books, I enjoyed the historical detail and the characters in this one more than I enjoyed the plot. I found the solution to the mystery unsatisfying; the right people weren't punished in the right ways. But Justin de Quincey is an appealing character. He's brave and clever, and, as an unacknowledged bastard, has to live by his wits. So you're always rooting for him. This time, still in the service of the queen, he finds himself in grave peril trying to get a message to her ...more
Alexandria Luttke
Justin must solve the murder of a young woman while serving the Queen loyally. Admittedly, I am not one who reads sequels often, I usually do not find myself invested enough in the characters to want to pursue their story; however, I decided to pick up the second book of the Quincy series more for the setting of the 13th century rather than the characters. I find England in the 1200 appealing as a setting and Penman delivers in giving enough historical background to keep me engaged. I would reco ...more
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Penman received her bachelor's degree from the University of Texas at Austin, she majored in history, and also received a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Rutgers University School of Law, and later worked as a tax lawyer. Penman suffered from an eighteen month bout with mononucleosis.

The Sunne in Splendour, a novel about Richard III of England is one of the most popular books on the Historical Nov
...more
More about Sharon Kay Penman...

Other Books in the Series

Justin de Quincy (4 books)
  • The Queen's Man (Justin de Quincy, #1)
  • Dragon's Lair (Justin de Quincy, #3)
  • Prince of Darkness  (Justin de Quincy, #4)

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