Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: November 2002
ISBN: 0340793295
Format Reviewed: Hardback
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Genre: Historical Crime / Supernatural (1192, Kent and The Fens, England also France and the Holy Land)
Reviewer: Rachel A Hyde
Reviewer Notes:

The Faithful Dead
A Hawkenlye Mystery, No. 5
By Alys Clare 

     Crusades veteran and sleuth Sir Josse d’Acquin has a noble visitor to entertain in the opening chapter of the fifth Hawkenlye Abbey novel: none other than Prince John himself. His Highness wants to know the whereabouts of a certain man, and has his magister in tow. Soon a body is found, and it appears that it is not the first, so can either of these be the missing man the prince wants so badly? The arrival from France of Josse’s younger brother, Yves, who is also looking for a man who wants news of their long-dead father sparks mutual reminiscences. The brothers recount a story their father used to tell about his time during the Second Crusade and a mysterious matter that could be casting a very long shadow.

     Trying to find an apt sub-genre to fit this novel into is not easy as it isn’t truly a whodunit. There is certainly plenty of crime and mystery in it, but if you are hoping for another classic “puzzle” whodunit of the Ellis Peters ilk with lots of red herrings and things to guess, then you may be disappointed.

     This appears to be something of a departure for the author from her usual style, and anybody who reads Paul Doherty and Sylvian Hamilton ought to recognize in this tale of sinister magicians, magic jewels and such another example of a sub-genre that Doherty seems to have invented, and more power to him for doing so. However, breaking off in the middle of the story for a very long tale about Josse’s father’s adventures tends to break up the book somewhat, and a more teasing plot could have resulted from all this Crusades history and supernatural mystery.

     In the early books, Sir Josse and Helewise lacked the well-rounded personalities of Brother Cadfael and Sister Frevisse but now are interesting characters in their own right who develop more in every book. By the end of this novel readers will know more about Josse, who has hitherto been rather shadowy, but if Alys Clare is changing her series from ecclesiastical whodunits to supernatural adventures, she will need stronger plots with more action.

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