A Feast of Poisons

Written by C.L. Grace
Review by Ilysa Magnus

The prolific Paul Doherty does it again – here as the author of the compelling Kathryn Swinbrooke series, featuring the marvelously clever Canterbury physician/investigator.

In this sixth installment, Kathryn and her new husband, Colum Murtagh, are in the village of Walmer for Michaelmas. In this claustrophic setting – where everyone knows everyone else and everything that everyone does – a husband and wife die. They are both poisoned, but by different poisons. Over a brief course of time, there are many more deaths by poison. Interwoven into this local mystery is the conflict between Yorkists and Lancastrians. Naturally, it is all tied together. Kathryn’s job is daunting: unraveling the methods and the motives for these deaths using not merely her knowledge of medicine, but her knowledge of the human condition and history, as well as a bit of psychological inquiry.

C.L. Grace books are such a joy because Kathryn is a well-developed, delightful character. Sexy, insightful, knowledgeable, Kathryn is much a modern woman in 15th century clothing. What becomes clear after reading this series is that Kathryn is perhaps not such an anomaly after all. Our perspective on this period is broadened by Grace’s daring efforts to educate us about what the 15th century was really like and to destroy our preconceived notions.