Putnam, Oct 2003, 23.95, 336 pp.
On his way home from the crusades, Richard the Lion-Hearted was kidnapped and held for ransom by the Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich for one hundred thousand silver marks. While King Richard I is languishing in an Austrian prison, his mother Eleanor of Aquitane is bankrupting the country trying to gather up the ransom from every class and guild including the church. When word reaches her that the ransom collected by the Welsh Prince Davydd ab Owain was stolen, she dispatches her man Justin de Quincy to recover the ransom.
When he arrives at Davydd's court, the prince tells him that the outlaw Llewelyn ab Iorwerth was responsible for the theft. He expects Justin to ask the Earl of Chester to bring troops into Wales to capture the outlaw and what is left of the ransom. It doesn't take Justin long to realize that Llewelyn, who is battling Davydd for crown, is a pawn in Davydd's quest to stay in power. He discovers Flemish sailors who were supposedly hired by an English lord stole the ransom. Justin has to find the English Lord if he intends to gain control of the stolen ransom though betrayal and murder follow in his footsteps.
Nobody writes a better medieval historical then Sharon Kay Penman and her latest historical mystery shows that meticulous research. Medieval England and Wales come alive as historical trivia is generously sprinkled throughout the story line. The protagonist is truly THE QUEEN'S MAN as he diligently works for the crown while facing down ghosts from his own past. DRAGON'S LAIR opens up new worlds to its audience one that they will want to revisit when Ms. Penman produces the next book in this addicting series.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner