cover image The Stolen Bride

The Stolen Bride

Tony Hays. Forge, $25.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7653-2629-4

Utterly convincing characters and a perfect balance between action and sleuthing distinguish Hays’s suspenseful fourth mystery set in King Arthur’s Britain (after 2011’s The Beloved Dead). When Arthur’s chief adviser, Malgwyn ap Cuneglas, inspects the scene of a village massacre, he can’t help thinking of a similar scene from years before, when he returned home to find the ravaged body of his wife, Gwyneth. That tragedy set Malgwyn on the violent path that cost him an arm and transformed him from farmer to warrior. Despite Arthur’s titular position as “High King of All Britannia,” Arthur’s grip on power is in fact tenuous, and the butchery of the villagers is yet more evidence that his kingdom is vulnerable to attack. Besides identifying those responsible for the slaughter, Malgwyn must solve a tribal leader’s murder that threatens serious political repercussions. Hays just keeps getting better with each entry in this intriguing historical series. Agent: Frank Weimann, Literary Group International. (Apr.)