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The Three Kings of Cologne
Roger the Chapman series #16

by Kate Sedley

      Roger the Chapman is back for a sixteenth case, this time working for friendly mayor-to-be John Foster. John wants to build some almshouses and a chapel on land he has bought, but a skeleton has been unearthed. Jewelry worn on the body identifies it as Isabella Linkinhorne, a beautiful and flirtatious young woman who disappeared twenty years earlier. The only child of elderly parents, she had three men eager to marry her - and presumably one of them is her killer. No one knows who they were, so Roger is going to have a hard time finding out whodunit. Especially as some people might not want the past raked up...

Rogerís cases are either missions undertaken for Richard, Duke of Gloucester, or tasks to find out whodunit for other reasons, and this is the latter. A good example, too, of how entertaining a straight bit of "police-work" can be, as Roger questions a wide variety of people in various locations and narrows down the suspects. We are also treated to the authorís exhaustive knowledge about the area at this time, and having Roger tell the tale in his own words works well. He is an engaging character with plenty of very human qualities who tells a good, direct tale, describing his daily life and the places he visits with a keen eye and a sense of humor. This makes the series soothing and almost "cozy", a welcome change from the vicissitudes of "realism". I donít mean the stories are not realistic, as they are; but that they manage not to be downbeat and instead give a feeling of real life, but with the drama turned up, which is surely a description of good fiction. As usual, this is another commendably slender volume but packed with incident and character. Highly recommended, like all Ms. Sedleyís books.

The Book

Severn House
April 2007
Historical Mystery - 1481, Bristol, Gloucester and Bath, UK
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2007
© 2006