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    Review of A FEAST OF POISONS by C. L. Grace

    A KATHRYN SWINBROOKE MYSTERY

    St. Martin's Minotaur, June 2004

    While the French ambassadors visit Lord Henry, hoping to secure a permanent peace between France and England, a rash of poisonings breaks out in Lord Henry's nearby town of Walmer. Visiting physician Kathryn Swinbrooke, newly married to Irishman Colum Murtagh, suspects that the poisonings are related to the recent execution of three Lancaster loyalists after the York victories of Barnet and Tewkesbury. Of course, Walmer has a dark past--not long before, Lord Henry had broken up a gang that lured ships to the dangerous shore and despoiled them. Of course, the treacherous Frenchmen, or possibly the visiting preacher, could have something to do with it. Besides, as Colum points out to Kathryn, even Lord Henry is hardly above suspicion.

    Set in War of the Roses England, A FEAST OF POISONS deals with greed, the fears that drive men to sin, and atonement of guilt. Because virtually everyone has some great guilt, some horrible secret, hanging over their heads. When one of the French ambassadors is found poisoned, Kathryn wonders whether there could possibly be a connection between the remote rural village and the high and mighty of the kingdom.

    Author C. L. Grace (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews by Grace) spent a bit too much time with Kathryn and Colum admiring how much in love with one another they were and how perfect their bodies were. In mystery, I like to get a good feel for the various red herrings, their possible motives, their private guilts. I didn't feel that I got enough of that in FEAST.

    The War of the Roses is a particularly fascinating point in English history and Grace's strong adherence to the Yorkist cause is a nice switch from the Shakespearian-based histories that followed the eventual Lancaster victory. A FEAST OF POISONS is an interesting story but I would have liked to see more interesting character development to add to the late-medieval atmosphere. For me, at least, FEAST did not live up to the promise set in earlier novels in the Kathryn Swinbrooke series.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 8/06/04

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