A TRUST BETRAYED by Candace Robb
FIRST CHAPTER OF MARGARET KERR OF PERTH
Warner Books, April 2001
It is 1297, Scotland writhes under Edward I of England's boots, and Margaret Kerr of Perth has a dead cousin and a missing husband. Both mysteries point toward Edinburgh where Margaret heads. There, staying with an unwelcoming cousin and untrusted by both Scots and English, Margaret tries to get to the bottom of both the death and the disappearance. The evidence, which she can only gather from overheard comments and rumors, is that her husband has taken up with another woman and is involved in the resistance against the English--but not on behalf of John Balliol, the true king but for Robert Bruce, a man more English than Scotish.
Everyone Margaret meets brings their own agenda, but can she trust anyone? James Comyn claims to be a loyal follower of John Balliol, but his scruples leave a great deal to be desired. Her cousin has lied to her repeatedly. Her brother is universally detested as a traitor to Scotland. Her servant is lazy (initially) and simply wants to return home and be away from this dreadful and occupied town. Her one clue of a weaving weight found clutched in her dead cousin's hand doesn't seem to lead anywhere.
There is a lot to like about A TRUST BETRAYED. Candace Robb's description of Scotland torn by internal strife as much as the English occupation rings true. Her Edinburgh is hugely different from the large city of today, but again has an authentic feel. While it is obvious that Robb has done her research, for the most part the history is woven into the plot rather than intruding on the story.
Until the last few pages, however, Margaret spends too much time going about her life and waiting for things to happen. Both the reader and Margaret are in the dark not only about the killer but also about what is happening, why Margaret doesn't pursue the obvious suspects, and what she intends to do with her husband once she finds him. This lack of character motivation is the largest flaw an otherwise well written and interesting novel.
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