Bone of Contention

Written by Roberta Gellis
Review by India Edghill

Magdalene la Batarde runs the best whore-house in 12th-century London. Sponsored by William of Ypres, King Stephen’s staunch supporter, Magdalene has managed to become a woman of independent means – save for her continued indebtedness to William. William asks Magdalene to come to Oxford, where the king holds council, for William needs a safe place to meet men of all stations and all politics – and where better than his “mistress’s” lodging? Politics is bad enough, from Magdalene’s point of view – but when an old murder sparks new ones, and an apparent plot against William of Ypres, not only her diplomatic but also her deduction skills are needed before the king’s council concludes.

A whore-mistress may seem an odd and unsavory choice for an amateur detective, but in Gellis’s skilled hands, Magdalene emerges as a strong and sympathetic character. Her relationship with both her patron William and her lover Sir Bellamy keeps the emotional tension high – and reader interest even higher. Magdalene’s saga continues to build in strength and appeal. Highly recommended for both mystery and historical novel lovers.