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Crescent Blues Book ViewsImage:two and a half moon gifSt. Martin's Minotaur (Hardcover), ISBN 0-312-27282-0
When The Brothers of Glastonbury came to my attention as a possible book to review, I confess I was predisposed to like it. The concept of a medieval mystery set in the heart of "King Arthur country" sans the usual Arthurian references sounded refreshingly unique, and I looked forward to the read.

Book: Kate Sedley, The Brothers of Glastonbury Memo to Self: quit judging a book by its jacket blurb!

Happenstance pulls Roger the Chapman, peddler by trade and sleuth by hobby, into investigating the disappearance of a young woman's betrothed. Rumors of the devil and black magic abound, to the dismay of the bridegroom's widowed mother. The missing groom Peter's avid reading and book collecting habits do nothing to alleviate matters, since the townsfolk fear that such questionable activities lead to nothing but trouble.

Indeed, trouble quickly finds Roger, plunging him into battle on several fronts. While searching for clues to Peter's whereabouts, Roger must wring information from terrified or otherwise uncooperative neighbors, perform rumor control to spare the family's reputation, stave off the advances of Cicely, Peter's hormone-ruled fiancée, and quell the urge to simply pack up and go home.

The intrepid sleuth overcomes the latter struggle upon discovery of Peter's most prized possession, a 1000-year-old parchment written in Ogham (think ancient barcode) that poses a riddle regarding the final hiding place of the Holy Grail. When Roger surmises that Peter's quest for this relic of relics may have resulted in his disappearance, his personal quest for answers takes a significant leap forward -- straight into the heart of danger.

Book: Kate Sedley, A Wicked WinterThere. The secret's out, and I feel much better now.

If you enjoy reading anything connected with King Arthur and the Grail Quest -- and if you can tolerate the irritating Cicely and a first-person narrative that gives Roger an almost Godlike omniscience, then you can do a lot worse than read The Brothers of Glastonbury. Sedley did her homework and creates a "lived in" medieval atmosphere where, thankfully, you won't find one jot of gratuitous profanity, sex or violence.

However, just once it would be nice to read a novel set in England's mysterious Somerset region without the author relying upon Arthurian-based plot devices. For me, that would feel like a real vacation.

Kim D. Headlee

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