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    Review of A MAZE OF MURDERS by C. L. Grace


    St. Martin's Minotaur, February 2003

    Sir Walter Maltravers is haunted by the memory of his failure during the fall of Constantinople, and by his failure at the Battle of Towton. Despite his wealth, his beautiful wife, and the holy Lacrima Christi--a ruby said to have been formed from the blood of Jesus--he lives in agony and in guilt. When he is found dead and his jewel is stolen, Kathryn Swinbrooke is called in to administer the King's justice.

    Danger, more murder, and more locked room mysteries confront Kathryn as she investigates. Maltravers was killed in the middle of a maze to which only he knew the secret. The jewel was kept in a locked room in a guarded monastery. A thief vanishs from a locked church. It seems that perhaps the avenging angels truly have stepped in. Certainly all of the suspects have alibies that cannot be shaken. Yet Kathryn diagnoses murder, not God's justice. She's determined to unravel the maze of death and murder and find the killer hiding in its depths.

    Author C. L. Grace (see more reviews of mysteries by Grace) makes the middle ages come alive. Set during the English War of the Roses, A MAZE OF MURDERS convincingly describes English justice of the time, the (mixed) role of women, contemporary medicine, and the ambiguous nature of justice in a time when patriotism and treason are distinguishable only after a battle is fought and lost. Kathryn's dogged determination to solve a host of locked room mysteries is admirable and sympathetic.

    I would have preferred to see better motivation for the final murder--which seems to exist only to give Kathryn the final clues she needs to the solution. Also, I suspect that Kathryn's mild flirtation with her fiance, Colum Murtagh, is intended to humanize Kathryn. Instead, it seemed cloying, distracting from the murder without adding anything to the story. Notwithstanding these flaws, A MAZE OF MURDER makes enjoyable reading.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 2/08/03

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