Breach of Faith (Ela of Salisbury Medieval Mysteries)

Written by J. G. Lewis
Review by Ilysa Magnus

In this, the second in the Ela of Salisbury Medieval Mystery series, it is 1226 and Countess Ela Longespee of Salisbury has recently lost her husband, William, kinsman to Henry III and possible victim of poisoning by the king’s justiciar. William was sheriff of Wiltshire, and Ela desperately wants the chance to continue in that position.  Although she is smart, intuitive and analytical, she is also a woman. Her kinsman, the king, has decided to replace her with a new sheriff—a man, of course. But Ela continues to persist, and she has every intention of recouping what she believes to be her rightful place.

When a poacher is arrested and brought to her, a series of events begin to occur—a claim to property whose owner quickly becomes a murder victim, a business that is not what it seems, and the appearance of yet another claimant to the same property. Although Ela has been replaced as acting sheriff by the King’s new appointee, she is determined to piece together the seemingly unrelated events and successfully conclude her investigation.

Despite many linguistic anachronisms, Ela is such a dynamic, clever and engaging character—well-documented in history—that I was comfortable with overlooking her very 21st-century language and very modern feminist career perspectives. Ela did become the first female sheriff of Wiltshire, so her determination to serve was ultimately rewarded. A fun read, and I now want to read the others in the series!