The Queen's Man

Sharon Kay Penman, Author Henry Holt & Company $20 (291p) ISBN 978-0-8050-3885-9
It's 1193. In a bleak and bitterly cold England, King Richard, on his way back from the crusades, has been missing for two months, and his ruthless brother John is scheming for the throne. Penman (Here Be Dragons) sets this energetic and adroitly plotted series launch within this historical framework, giving Justin de Quincy, the well-educated but illegitimate son of a bishop, a chance to save England. Justin is too late to aid a goldsmith murdered by thieves, but he does take the wealthy man's hidden letters to their destination: the Queen mother, Eleanor. Of course, he reads them first and discovers that King Richard, with the connivance of the French king, is being held prisoner in Austria. The Queen appoints Justin as her chief investigator into the goldsmith's murder, giving him money, carte blanche and dire warnings as to the need for secrecy. Justin--comely, courageous and shrewd--quickly befriends a wide array of sheriffs, doxies and wenches, and flits from palace to alehouse to brothel ferreting out plots and conspiracies. The sounds of swordplay and bodices being ripped are loud and frequent. The accomplished author of historical novels employs some stereotypical characters (if he sneers, he's a villain) and much cliched prose (""...her mouth as soft and ripe as Summer strawberries""), yet Justin is so beguiling and, the action so lively and unpredictable, that readers will cheer Justin's return in further adventures. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/04/1996
Release date: 11/01/1996
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-345-41718-3
Prebound-Other - 978-0-613-37639-6
Open Ebook - 250 pages - 978-1-4668-1324-3
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