THE DARKEST RED by Viviane Moore
Victor Gollancz (Orion) - June 2001
ISBN 0575068280 Trade Paperback
Historical Mystery

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde,
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Back in 1145 the little town of Jumieges is getting ready for the fierce gales of the autumn equinox.  They bring with them a whale, which once killed, can feed the whole town but first takes several people with it when it dies - but has the whale caused all the casualties?  Into this bustling setting comes the Chevalier Galeran de Lesnevan who has been summoned by the Bishop of Lisieux to investigate the abbey in Jumieges, following rumors of corruption.  Soon he is to find that he has plenty to deal with as a young girl is found dead after her wedding night with the unpopular Rurik, the Danish whale-killer.

A whale swimming up the Seine, fierce Danes, black magic, strange legends of green wolves, Jack The Ripper-type murders and old secrets are the ingredients of this succinct but well-crafted tale.  Originally written in French it loses something in the translation but less than the first book in the series. Moore has concocted a teasing plot with as many surprising twists and turns as a switchback ride and put in into admirably few words but still conveyed the same amount of satisfying story as a novel five times as long.  One feature of these novels is the recipes at the reverse, as well as a useful glossary of prominent people in the 12th century and a list of mediaeval terms.  I look forward to more of her books.

The first two titles in the series are Blue Blood and A Black Romance.

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