The poison Maiden
This second book in the Mathilde of Westminster series takes us to the court of Edward II in 1308. England is on the brink of civil war. Incensed by the king’s relationship with his favourite, Gaveston, Duke of Cornwall, the lords of the realm demand that the king surrender Gaveston to have him tried for treason. Meanwhile the Poison Maiden, a mysterious assassin and spy in the employ of Philip IV of France, is on the prowl and threatens not only to murder Gaveston but bring down the king himself. After discovering two garroted bodies on palace grounds, Mathilde, physician and handmaiden to Queen Isabella, goes on a quest to unmask the Poison Maiden. Our heroine unveils a wealth of intrigue, corruption, and dirty deeds.
Although rich in atmosphere and historical detail, this novel suffers in comparison to The Cup of Ghosts, the dazzling first novel in the series. By the end of the second chapter, I had figured out who the killer was. Also, I did not find Mathilde quite as convincing a character as I did in the previous book.