Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Burgundian's Tale

It's been more than fifteen years since I picked up the first Roger the Chapman book, and I sometimes lose track of the time between stories.  It's been about seven or eight years in his timeline since Roger first helped Prince Richard, and close to two years since he's worked on a royal commission.  The request to solve The Burgundian's Tale could not come at a better time for Roger - he can't hide the relief at not having another child to support when his newborn daughter dies, and his former mother-in-law (his current wife's cousin) has taken ill and is staying with his family.   

It's the perfect time for Roger to walk through the countryside selling his wares, but Prince Richard has other plans.  His sister, the Duchess of Burgundy, has returned for a visit and her beloved servant (the son of another servant raised as her companion) has been murdered and Richard 'asks' Roger to solve the mystery.  The Burgundian's Tale is a murder in retrospect, and everyone sees the late Fulk Quantrill differently.  To his aunt Judith St. Clair (his mother's identical twin), he's a link to her past and now the heir to her considerable wealth.  To her stepdaughter, he's a potential suitor and to her stepson he's a competitor.  Edmund Brorder, a cousin of Judith's first husband, has the best motive of all, since he stood to inherit his cousin's shop until she rewrote her will.  The real motive turns out to be blackmail, not inheritance, and Sedly has written a tightly plotted mystery which leaves just enough clues to allow us to guess the murderer a few paragraphs before Roger tumbles into a trap.

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