cover image Murder in the Holy City

Murder in the Holy City

Simon Beaufort. St. Martin's Press, $22.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-312-19566-3

In this first volume of a projected series, the setting is 12th-century Jerusalem, as conflicted then as it is now. Victorious Crusaders battle heat, grit, Saracens, Greeks, Jews and one another to retain sway over the captured city. Sir Geoffrey de Mappstone, a knight allied to the Norman leader Tancred, returning to the city from a desert patrol, discovers the corpse of a recently murdered knight in a baker's bedchamber. The murder isn't unique: three monks and two knights have been similarly dispatched with carved daggers in locations throughout the city. Charged by both Tancred and the Advocate (the Catholic religious leader in Jerusalem) to solve the murders and discover their meaning, Geoffrey ferrets out treason and treachery, finding himself in constant danger. Beaufort's novel depicts the twisted alleys and markets of Jerusalem--and the equally twisted motives that brought the Crusaders there--with clarity and force. She neatly captures the particulars of everyday life, from the clothes the Crusaders wore to the food they ate. Beaufort scores with this satisfying mystery nestled securely in a well-detailed historical context. (Dec.)