Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Mystery that Captures

Mysteries hold my attention more than almost any other genre at the moment, and the author who has captured my imagination is Kate Sedley, the author of the Roger the Chapman a series of mystery novels. I'm presently enjoying The Wicked Winter, and after our own nasty weather this winter I find it fascinating to see how those in the Middle Ages dealt with extreme winters and the problems they can create. Oh, and if you haven't guessed, the setting for the series is an England of the late 1400s. The author has closely captured the feel of the time, if not totally the language. But since I don't speak the English of the period, that's okay!

This tale centers around the death of a young noble woman and the winter that keeps everyone from the lowest to the the most wealthy together totally captured by a raging winter storm within the castle where the event has occurred - including (most likely) the murderer. From the descriptions of the life of the servants, to that of a chapman, or peddler, the author has given a good taste of the period as well as the stress surrounding the death. The anxiety that holds the mystery to who might have done the deed is there on every page too.

I found the book captivating, except for some of the language used by the main character, Roger the Chapman. At times it is a bit too modern and probably for the use of a more educated character. But in the same breath, I find that to capture the reader the dialog used is easy to follow and doesn't get bogged down with all the typical language and dialects of the period where many a reader would get stalled in the "thees" and "thous" that are usually used for books about the period.

I enjoyed this mystery and the view of the everyday people of England during the Middle Ages. Kate Sedley has an interesting character in the chapman and her stories have a depth that can truly capture the imagination.

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