The Midsummer Crown (Roger the Chapman Mysteries)
This is a locked room mystery with a fascinating historical backdrop. It is set in England during the months in 1483 between the death of Edward IV and the assumption of the crown by Richard III. Roger, a peddler and sleuth, is asked by none other than Richard to investigate the puzzling murder of a tutor and the disappearance of his pupil.
Sedley gives us a Richard who is neither a monster nor a saint, decent in many ways but a ruthless enemy. His wife, Anne, is not the usual sweet creation but a loving spouse who is also Warwick’s ambitious daughter. Richard’s mother and the nephew whose crown he will snatch also spring to vivid life. The mystery itself is interesting enough, though the purely fictional characters seem a bit flat next to the royals. I did not find the resolution completely believable. Along the way, we get vivid glimpses of Richard and members of the royal family as he prepares to claim the crown. The remarkably good features of this novel are the deft sketch of history and the psychologically astute renderings of real historical personages.