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The Green Man
Roger the Chapman Mystery #17

by Kate Sedley

      Pedlar and sometime sleuth Roger Chapman is called upon to serve as bodyguard to the Duke of Albany as he marches north to win back Berwick for Scotland, and become king. Scotland already has James III as king, but he has been found wanting. Surely former renegade and outlaw Albany will be better. He thinks so, anyway and wants to make sure nobody assassinates him - hence calling upon Richard of Gloucesterís favorite agent to guard him. Roger just wants to return home to his family, but along the route there is plenty to pique his interest, culminating in a murder in Edinburgh.

Having Roger tell the tale in his own words is one of the things that makes this series so popular. Apart from the odd modernism, such as comparing Fotheringay Castle to a "prehistoric animal," this continues to work excellently, and on the long march north we get an insight into what it must have been like to be a menial in the retinue of a powerful noble. It is a long march too, with vague suspicions of lurking assassins, but it is not until halfway through the book that there is an actual murder for Roger to solve. This has the effect of cutting the book in half, and despite the historical verisimilitude of the affairs of each day, this has a less than satisfactory effect. Even less satisfactory is the ending, which struck me as being weak in many ways and disappointed me, as this is such a fine series usually with a good underpinning of research. I wonít spoil the plot by saying any more, but it has me wondering whether this is an interlude or a new direction for the series. I hope not - there are many histmyst series but this is one of my favorite mediaeval ones.

The Book

Severn House
February 2008
0727866176 / 9780727866172
Historical Mystery / 1482 / Edinburgh, Scotland
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2008
© 2008