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Alys Clare

Hodder and Stoughton £18.99hbk

Reviewed by Ayo Onatade

A decomposing body, a visit from Prince John and his seer, and a visit from Josse’s brother Yves all make for an extremely interesting tale in the 5th in the series featuring Josse d’Acquin and the spirited Abbess Helewise of Hawkenlye Abbey. Josse soon finds himself trying to untangle a theft that took place while his father was still alive but still has an effect on him. Soon Josse, Yves and the Abbess find themselves investigating a secrecy whose roots extend back much further than the Second Crusade while also trying to avoid the wrath of Prince John.

Over the years there has been an increase in the number of historical crime fiction novels that have been written. Moreover, medieval crime fiction novels are easily able to hold their own amongst the wide range of historical crime fiction novels that are widely available. In this case The Faithful Dead is a prime example of the excellent way in which history has been woven into the novel without taking away from the mystery element and therefore making it unreadable. The historical detail in this novel, while unobtrusive, is full of authenticity and sense of place, but one still does not feel that the reader is bombarded with too much knowledge.

This latest tale has also allowed the author to reveal a bit more about Josse’s past history and what happened to his father during the second crusade. The writing is good, the further developments of the main characters and their relationships is also welcomed as the reader is given the opportunity to explore how people dealt with one another during that period.

The Faithful Dead is a well-plotted story with a number of twists that certainly keep the reader thinking. As this series continues it gets better and better. If you are looking for a historical crime fiction novel with a sense of place then the Hawkenlye series is certainly worth trying.