Review of BONE OF CONTENTION by Roberta Gellis (see her website)
A MAGDALENE LA BATARDE MYSTERY
FORGE, September 2002
When King Steven calls a council, many people hasten to attend--those who hope to win a lawsuit, those who seek royal favor, and even whoremistresses like Magdalene la Batarde. Magdalene owes her life to William of Ypres and knows that she can serve him by providing a place of refuge and a secure meeting area. She doesn't expect to become involved in murder, but when an attempt at a forced wedding ends with the prospective groom stabbed in the back and one of William's men a suspect, Magdalene decides to investigate.
Magdalene's lover, Bell, is also in Oxford, serving his master's orders at the great council. Bell is jealous of Magdalene's loyalty to William and concerned for her safety as she plunges deeper into the investigation, but overall a good sport. He pitches in, serves escort duty, and interviews men at arms, bartenders, and others that Magdalene could not approach.
In BONE OF CONTENTION, author Roberta Gellis (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Roberta Gellis) delivers a powerful and fascinating view of an important time in English history. Her historical details are excellent, providing insights to the historically inclined without being obtrusive to those following the mystery. Much more so than in A PERSONAL DEVIL (see our review), Gellis delves into her characters. Both Magdalene and Bell are successfully detailed, with understandable conflict that cannot be resolved by a simple discussion. The mystery is compelling with a rich assortment of suspects and an abundance of clues.
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