A Maze of Murders
There is no question that C.L. Grace, or Paul Doherty (or any other of his pseudonyms), is a prolific writer who chooses fascinating protagonists around which to fashion his multiple mystery series. In the Kathryn Swinbrooke series, Grace outdoes himself, I believe, because Kathryn is such a well-rounded, interesting and vividly portrayed example of a professional woman in the late Middle Ages.
Kathryn, an apothecary in Canterbury, is asked to investigate the death of Sir Walter Maltravers together with her Irish fiancé, Colum Murtagh, the King’s Commissioner. Sir Walter has been found beheaded in his own private hedge maze. Decades before Maltravers fought beside Edward IV as a commander at the Battle of Towton, he had served as one of the fanatical bodyguards of the last Byzantine emperor, Constantine XI Palaeologus. As Constantinople was burning under siege, Maltravers fled, committing the unpardonable sin of leaving his emperor without defense, and taking with him the Lacrima Christi, a huge ruby said to be a holy relic. Canterbury gossips are convinced that the remaining loyalists have come calling and repaid Maltravers for his disloyalty.
Filled with the taste and feel of fifteenth century Canterbury, this book is a fun read. It certainly helps that Kathryn is such a well-rounded character and that the plot is well-designed. This is Grace/Doherty at his best.