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The Abbot and The Acolyte
Death and Taxes - Book I

by David Coles and Jack Everett

      Fantasy and SF writers Coles and Everett have teamed up to write the first in a series about Abbot Rulitius, the Papal auditor, and his young acolyte William. It is Rutiliusí task to travel around the French countryside in the late 13th century auditing monasteries, and in this first case he acquires the son of a disgraced local Duke who sided with the Cathars as his aide. The pair set off to audit another religious house, where they find themselves mixed up in several crimes including a murder.

Frequent visitors to this site will know that I do like a pacy book that gets to the point, and I firmly believe that crime fiction should be first and foremost about the crime and its solution. Donít worry, we get there in the end but the book was half over before any actual detecting occurred. Once the book got into its stride it picked up enormously and began to be entertaining, although subsequent titles might be better off with a larger array of suspects to choose from. Maybe I am being a trifle unfair, because Rutilius and William are new to sleuthing and we learn with them as they get to grips with an unfamiliar skill. This is more realistic, perhaps, than a tyro sleuth instantly knowing what to do, but this is not actually where the book treads water. Also in the bookís favor is the fact that both protagonists need to change and grow, and we watch them doing this.

Rutilius needs to become a little more self-effacing and less disposed towards making hasty judgements, while young William has some growing up to do and to come to terms with the loss of his ducal heritage. Watching this happen is also agreeable, as is trying to work out whodunit and what else is going on at the monastery. Jack Everett is new to me but I have read and enjoyed many of Colesís lively and pacy fantasies, and maybe now the introduction to the world of the abbot and the acolyte is over book two might be rather more exhilarating.

The Book

Libros International
May 2008
1905988184 / 9781905988181
Historical Mystery / 1281 South of France
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2008
© 2008