St. Martin's, Apr 2003, 23.95, 288 pp.
Late in the eleventh century under the reign of William, Brother Nicholas fails to return to Gloucester Abbey from collecting the rents. He remains missing for two days leading to concern and high tension among the residents of Gloucester Abbey because that is out of character for the monk. Anxiety dramatically increases when two novices, known for their misdeeds, stumble over the corpse of Brother Nicholas, whose throat has been slashed.
The Brothers and the novices panic while Sheriff Durand stuns the Abbot when he insists that the opportunity to kill the victim was only available to one of monks. In the area to resolve another minor land dispute, Domesday Commissioners Ralph Delchard and Gervase Bret travel to Gloucester Abbey to conduct their own investigation. They quickly conclude that the murder of Nicholas is just the start of an evil that will kill again and ultimately destroy the abbey unless stoped.
Instead of turning repetitive and as boring as resolving an insignificant land dispute (just ask Ralph), the tenth Domesday novel is a delightful fresh treat. The “locked door” who-done-it is cleverly designed and fun to follow as the lead sleuths struggle with a closed mouth abbot and an irate sheriff wanting them to stay out of his business to solve the case. Historical tidbits interwoven into the plot enhance the murder mystery. However, the key to Edward Marston's latest William era tale is the depth of the support cast which enables the audience to visualize medieval times inside a strong investigative novel.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner