The Colour of Cold Blood
Toni Mount joins the ranks of medieval mystery authors to watch for. The Colour of Cold Blood is her third Sebastian Foxley story. It is a fun read chock full of period detail—enough to please the most avid medievalist.
The principal character, Sebastian Foxley, has solved mysteries in the past but is an unlikely sleuth. A talented artist, he illuminates many of 15th-century London’s finest books. His workshop employs a journeyman, Gabriel Widowson, and two apprentices: Jack and Tom. Seb’s roguish brother, Jude, is a partner in the enterprise and the nemesis of Seb’s sharp-tongued wife, Emily. It is a busy, prosperous and oftentimes tumultuous household.
This period in London’s history is equally turbulent, as Church officials hunt Lollard heretics who would seduce pious Englishmen into the heresy of reading the Bible in their own tongue. No one is above suspicion. On a smaller scale of troubles, Sebastian’s parish church has acquired a nasty-tempered curate sent by his uncle, the bishop, to sniff out Lollard heretics and miscreants in general. Large and small troubles combine to create a hellish fortnight for the parish’s faithful.
Being a mystery, there must also be murders to solve. In this tale, two prostitutes are hideously slashed. It’s fairly obvious from the get-go “whodunit,” but the path to discovery is nonetheless captivating. There are surprising plot twists and a great prison escape scene which I won’t spoil. The climax is made-for-movies suspenseful. All in all, The Colour of Cold Blood is a wonderful beach book for medieval mystery fans. Well done!