Cruel as the Grave

Penman, Sharon Kay

Published by Fawcett, 2001
ISBN 10: 0345441443 / ISBN 13: 9780345441447
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Synopsis: April 1193. England’s King Richard Lionheart languishes in a German prison, and treason scents the air. Richard’s younger brother, John, seizes Windsor Castle, and Dowager Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine summons her trusted personal “queen’s man,” Justin de Quincy, to do the impossible– mediate a truce with her rebel son. Amid such fateful events, the murder of a Welsh peddler’s daughter seems small. But the cruel demise of the beautiful Melangell so troubles Justin that not even a threatened French invasion can keep him from investigating her death. Yet can he bring Melangell’s craven killer to justice?

Review: Readers of The Queen's Man, Sharon Kay Penman's first book about young Justin de Quincy, will feel right at home as Justin--the bastard son of a bishop--continues to help England's aged Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine find out if her son Richard Lionheart is still alive in a German prison while trying to keep another son, John, from usurping the throne. Newcomers might take a few more pages, but Penman's skill at making the daily life of 1193 England so immediately accessible should soon have them equally comfortable. Why would a messenger grab his mantle but not his boots before jumping out of a Winchester bawdy house window on a mild April night? Because that's where a traitorous message is hidden. What would Justin and his friend Luke have for supper at a Thameside cookshop? "Pork-filled pie and ginger wafers, washed down with cider." Why was "breakfast the day's dubious meal, not quite respectable?" Because, Penman tells us, "people were supposed to be able to satisfy themselves with a hearty dinner and a lighter supper." Details like these bond us quickly with distant ancestors--and make us wonder what particulars of our own lives will be fodder for future writers of historical fictions. --Dick Adler

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Title: Cruel as the Grave
Publisher: Fawcett
Publication Date: 2001
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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