I pulled The Pale Companion off my shelf as I was nearing the end of my annual book diet. I read an earlier (the first?) book in the series nearly a decade ago and remember it as enjoyable but not particularly gripping. That's also my assessment of The Pale Companion; a decent mystery but not one that left me desperate to hunt down the rest of the out-of-print series.
The Chamberlain's Men are traveling to an estate near Salisbury where they will perform "A Midsummer Night's Dream" the night before the ceremony. Along the way, company member Nick Revill ends up on the wrong end of a riot and meets local magistrate Adam Flemming whose daughter Kate tends to Nick's bruises. Due to the Theory of the Conservation of Characters, we know that the Flemmings will be guests at the wedding, and that (since this is a mystery), Adam Flemming will be charged with solving it. And we are not disappointed - we even get a bonus murder. The first death is that of Robin, a feral woodsman found hanging from a tree. His murder has not been solved when, the night after the performance, someone kills Lord Elcombe with a gnomon. His elder son, Henry (the groom to be) appears to have killed him, but has he? Phillip Gooden creates a good puzzle, giving strong motives to the innocent and supporting his slightly improbably conclusion. I'll give The Pale Companion a middling grade - worth reading, but perhaps not worth searching for.