The Brothers of Glastonbury

Kate Sedley, Author Minotaur Books $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-312-27282-1
Those who have enjoyed the sleuthing of Sedley's 15th-century peddler Roger the Chapman know what a feast of storytelling, historical detail and clever crime solving awaits. Those who haven't should give the series a try (The Holy Innocents, etc.). In the seventh book, as summer draws to a close, Roger begins his journey through southwest England to his family in Bristol. A few days' walk from home, his duke asks him to escort a young bride, Cecily Armstrong, to her relations after the groom, Peter Gildersleeve, fails to meet her as planned. Arriving at the pilgrimage town of Glastonbury, Roger learns that Peter has disappeared, seemingly into thin air. Peter's mother and intended enlist the peddler's aid in finding the missing groom, whose bookishness and secretiveness have aroused suspicions of his dabbling in black magic. Roger's own religious beliefs and monastic training at Glastonbury Abbey make him well qualified to solve the puzzle. When ancient scrolls written in an archaic language surface and Peter's brother vanishes, Roger realizes that his investigation is far from straightforward. Using local legends and myths as a foundation, Sedley portrays late medieval England with remarkable clarity and vividness. Through credible characters, from the restless Roger to the susceptible Cecily, she provides insight into the beliefs and events that shaped people's thinking without digressing or condescending to her readers. Less adept historical mystery authors would do well to study her example. (Jan. 6)
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
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