The Stockholm Castle Mystery

Written by Joyce Elson Moore
Review by Elizabeth Knowles

In 1649 Sweden, a Polish soldier and lute player, Johan Sokolewski, is seeking refuge from the horrors of the Thirty Years War. He is hired as a lutenist for the Swedish royal family, but a murder and a theft soon disturb the peacefulness of the Court. Queen Kristina appoints Johan to investigate the crimes, as he is a newcomer and unlikely to have been the perpetrator. The court’s astrologer, the attractive alchemist Zofia, is the prime suspect. Johan does not want to see this pretty, intelligent woman executed. He and his new friend Gunne, one of the queen mother’s several dwarves, struggle in the cold of the frigid Swedish winter to locate the true thieving killer before time runs out and Zofia is hanged.

This is the first book of a planned trilogy featuring Johan Sokolewski. There is an interesting cast of characters, a fascinating, fresh setting, and a series of exciting events. The mystery plot plods along a bit as readers are given little information to help them figure out who might have committed the crimes. The biggest weakness in this book is the dry, monotone prose style that makes it hard for the reader to want to keep turning the pages. Still, this author has won multiple awards for her fiction, so fans looking for something a little different in a historical mystery may want to ignore this reviewer’s criticisms and take a look anyway.