cover image The Winter King: A Hawkenlye Mystery

The Winter King: A Hawkenlye Mystery

Alys Clare. Severn, $28.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8349-0

On All Saints’ Eve, 1211, Lord Benedict de Vitré of Medley Hall, an obese nobleman suspected of lining his pockets with his sovereign’s money, dies suddenly in the midst of a gluttonous feast, in Clare’s intriguing 15th Hawkenlye whodunit (after 2012’s The Song of the Nightingale). Given his poor health and the absence of obvious signs of death, foul play isn’t suspected, despite the number of people wishing him ill, including his wife, Lady Richenza, who has employed healer Sabin de Gifford to thwart her husband’s desire for an heir. Sabin fears that the medications she secretly supplied to make procreation less likely may have contributed to de Vitré’s death. Evidence of murder soon emerges, and de Vitré isn’t the last to die, giving Sabin and her fellow healer, Meggie d’Acquin, several crimes to solve. The convincing depiction of King John’s England, “suffering the results of the monarch’s petulant squabble with Pope Innocent,” makes up for an unremarkable mystery. (Apr.)