A Mystery of Blood and Dust (Belina Lansac Murder Mysteries Book 2) (Belina Lansac Mysteries)

Written by Danae Penn
Review by Ann Chamberlin

In 1483, a beautiful young woman is found dead in a chapel when she should have been at her betrothal banquet. Belina Lansac and her husband, Guillaume, investigate in this second volume of a series. The setting is the town of Condom in Gascony on the pilgrimage route to Compostela; we are glad to have in the author someone who actually lives here, on the present-day border between Spain and France.

Otherwise, many difficulties get in the way of a pleasant read, particularly as regards the characters. The first problem must be for the reader who has not become acquainted with a sheaf of personages from previous adventures. A list of characters would help. Better delineation of characters would also help. There are a lot of consuls. I would like to see what consuls do for a living, for starters. It has always been a point of fascination for me that these holdovers from the Roman Empire stood in democratic opposition to the reigns of kings from the north.

Belina, whom we are told grew up in this town, is taken by surprise by a lot of things a native would know. And the relationship to France seems a little close. Maybe more was made of the English presence in previous offerings. Guillaume’s diversion that takes him out of the picture is contrived and disappears annoyingly.

A Muslim character and Jews add a richness and a reminder of the shattering of society going on across the border, but their reception is a little politically correct.