BLUE BLOOD by Viviane Moore
Victor Gollancz (Orion) - April 2000
ISBN: 0575068205 - Hard Back

Reviewed by Rachel Hyde, MyShelf.Com
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Back in 1135 there was a terrible fire in Chartres and much of the town and its magnificent cathedral was destroyed.  Ten years on hundreds of craftsmen are rebuilding the cathedral and one of them is Audouard, a master glazier.  Into this bustling setting comes the Chevalier Galeran de Lesnevan who has been summoned by the Count of Blois to solve a mystery.  Soon he is to find that he has more than one on his hands, and how does it all connect with the fire?

Mysterious hermit-like glaziers, bodies galore, a beautiful, enigmatic female physician and deadly old secrets are the ingriedients of this succinct but well-crafted tale.  Originally written in French it has suffered the same fate of Christian Jacq by being rendered into an indifferent translation that makes it read in a stilted manner.  I found myself trying to guess how the original would have been worded on rather too many occasions in an attempt to get to the very essence of the story, the part that goes beyond the plot and characters.  An oddity is the lengthy appendix that has a useful glossary (it would have been better to put this at the front of the book as I only found it after I had read the actual story) and several pages of recipes.  Much as I was fascinated to discover how to make Gallimaufrey with lamb leftovers I felt that I had bought a novel and then been left with something else, a compendium stuffed with all the research the author had done and like a thrifty housewife had not wanted to overlook.  This aside Moore has concocted a teasing plot with as many surprising twists and turns as a switchback ride and put in into admirably few words bus still conveyed the same amount of satisfying story as a novel five times as long.  I look forward to more of her books but hope for more inspiring translations and less addenda.

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