THE CHATTER OF THE
Here is the fourth outing
for those mediaeval sleuths Abbess Helewise of Hawkenlye Abbey and Sir
Josse d'Acquin, This time, the latter is ill with a fever and tossing
fretfully in the Abbey's infirmary, so it is all up to the Abbess to sort
out the problems concerning the newest arrivals - the unbalanced Alba
and her two young sisters who have recently lost their parents. Alba says
that she has left an abbey in the Fens where she was happy in order to
see her siblings settled, but somehow this act of charity fits ill with
the troublesome nature of the new nun. When one of Alba's sisters goes
missing and Alba herself threatens the Abbess, it is bad enough but then
a pilgrim is murdered so it is up to Helewise to go forth and travel to
the mysterious drowned landscape of the Fens to find out what exactly
the secret is. She is going to have a few nasty surprises.
This is a series that gets better steadily with each book (this is the fourth) and this has a good teasing plot with mounting tension and is exactly the right length. Missing this time was any plot space given to the historic problems involving John as Regent and the ransom of King Richard, but there is surely time to bring this in later in the series.
In the early books, Sir Josse and Helewise lacked the well-rounded personalities of Brother Cadfael and Sister Frevisse but are beginning to become more lively and interesting. This time the sick Josse wasn't really missed. On the whole, this is not a series that is read for the characters, but for the absorbing plot. It did keep me turning pages and I can say that this series is good but still not great.
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