|Kate Sedley: The Wicked Winter|
Martin's Press (Hardback), ISBN 0-312-20625-9
Despite the bitter winter weather of 1476, Roger the Chapman (a peddler) happily travels the English countryside offering his wares and news to winter-weary townsfolk. Curiously, Roger finds his path follows that of an itinerant preacher, Brother Simeon.
Brother Simeon's sermons reek a bit too much of fire-and-brimstone to suit Roger, who has little liking for the ascetic friar. Roger likes it even less when he discovers that the Dominican friar's destination -- Cederwell Manor -- mirrors his own. Worse yet, scarcely do the two men shake the snow from their cloaks when a member of the household finds Lady Cederwell dead outside the tower she converted into a private chapel.
Did Jeanette Cederwell lean too far out of a tower window and accidentally fall to her death? Or was she perhaps "helped" to take that last fatal step? A snowstorm traps the occupants of Cederwell Manor behind its walls, setting the stage for more tragedy and murder. Will Roger sort through the tangled threads of adultery, rape and altered identities before the clearing roads allow the murderer to escape?
In The Wicked Winter, Kate Sedley weaves another entertaining tale featuring Roger the Chapman. While I found it a bit doubtful that a lowly peddler would dare to question his betters with all the zeal of Hercule Poirot or Sam Spade, I still enjoyed the twists and turns employed by the author to bring her readers to the ultimately satisfying conclusion. The rich detail of the period and engaging characters offered an extra bonus.
Tramp on, Roger, down those long dusty medieval roads. I know I and a lot of other readers hope there'll be another tasty little murder just around the next bend.
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