Forge, Sept 2002, 25.95, 431 pp.
Once she was a wife to a minor lord and mistress of her own manor until her husband, in a fit of jealousy, tried to kill her and she defended herself by killing him first. She ran away and thanks to her beauty became a courtesan but even then two men were killed because of her beauty. Now, Magdalene la Batarde is determined to be her own woman. She is the whore mistress of the Old Priory Guesthouse and her patron is William of Ypres, King Stephen's chief enforcer.
William asks Magdalene to meet him in Oxford where the king is conducting a council. He needs a place to go where he can hold meetings that will be kept secret and nobody can arrange things like that better than Magdalene. She is accompanied by her lover Sir Bellamy, the Bishop of Winchester's chief knight and together they find a place to serve William's need as well as their own. While in Oxford, a series of murders occur and to protect William's interests (and her own sense of justice) Magdalene conducts an investigation in hopes of flushing out a murderer.
She is the grand mistress of medieval works of fiction and her series of medieval mysteries are some of the best ever written. One gets a sense of the era as well as learning how the different classes acted and thought. Although this is a work of fiction, the historical events are very true and make for a fascinating reading experiences. BONE OF CONTENTION will be sought after by Hope who like the Brother Cadfael mysteries and those written by Peter Tremayne.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner