Books by Kate Sedley

Pseudonym of Brenda Margaret Lilian Honeyman Clarke. She was born in Bristol and educated at The Red Maid's School, Westbury-on-Trym. She is married and has a son and a daughter, and one granddaughter. Her medieval whodunits feature Roger the Chapman, who

Released: July 1, 2013

"Not much nourishment for puzzle-solvers who want to compete with Roger. But Sedley (The Tintern Treasure, 2012, etc.) does provide a most interesting look at historical Christmas customs, many of which survive to this day."
Even the Christmas season of 1483 can't slow down Roger the Chapman's propensity for problem-solving. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2012

"Although Roger's latest is far from the most exciting of his long series of adventures (The Midsummer Crown, 2011, etc.), it still provides the usual meticulous historical research along with a satisfying mystery."
Doing a favor for his wife involves Roger the Chapman in yet another complicated and possibly treasonous mystery. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2011

"Once more, Sedley (Wheel of Fate, 2010, etc.) cleverly weaves one of her stronger mysteries into a background of notable historical events."
Murder and kidnapping are set against the momentous events of 1483. Read full book review >
WHEEL OF FATE by Kate Sedley
Released: June 1, 2010

"Sedley (Dance of Death, 2009, etc.) provides another fine mystery set against the backdrop of the turbulent 15th century."
Forsaken by his family, Roger the Chapman follows them from Bristol to London, and despite his desire for peace and quiet is again embroiled in mystery and intrigue. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2009

"As usual, Sedley excels at bringing the Middle Ages to life. Even though there's not much mystery here, Roger's latest adventure will certainly hold the interest of the faithful."
Not even the company of a beautiful woman can turn dangerous Paris into a romantic destination for Roger the Chapman. Read full book review >
THE GREEN MAN by Kate Sedley
Released: June 1, 2008

"More travelogue than mystery, but both foreground and background are skillfully portrayed and enjoyable."
Scotland in 1482 is a wild and fearsome place that may be the death of Roger the Chapman. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2006

"Last-minute twists and revelations make Roger's 14th adventure one of his best."
Back in Bristol with his family, Roger the Chapman (The Burgundian's Tale, 2005, etc.) is drawn into a new adventure by an unexpected relative. Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 2005

"Medievalists will enjoy Roger's perambulations through the grand palaces and mean streets of London until a chance recognition brings the mystery to a satisfactory close."
Finding home life a bit of a strain, Roger the Chapman (The Midsummer Rose, 2004, etc.) is less reluctant than he might be to make a trip to London when his services are requested by the King's nephew and the Duke of Gloucester's spymaster Timothy Plummer. Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 2004

"Solid work for the stolid Chapman (The Lammas Feast, 2002, etc.) in a nicely drawn portrait of domestic life in medieval Bristol."
Roger the Chapman, medieval peddler and meddler, is used to having his former mother-in-law pay him no mind, but when his wife also thinks he's hallucinating, he must prove he's telling the truth. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

"A tetchy, often amusing glimpse of medieval domesticity in which two adults, two toddlers, one screaming baby, one love-starved dog, and countless fleas share a single room while Lancaster, York, and less political contingents roam the countryside."
Although he usually solves murders at the request of the Duke of Gloucester (The Goldsmith's Daughter, 2001, etc.), 15th-century peddler/sleuth Roger the Chapman acts on his own this time to investigate the stabbing of much loathed Jasper Fairbrother, a usurer, blackmailer, and baker in his adopted home town of Bristol. Suspicion first falls on a visiting Breton seen arguing with Fairbrother, but while he's recuperating in Mistress Ford's nearby cottage from a beating at the hands of the King's men, who thought him a Tudor spy, someone creeps in and smothers him. Then Fairbrother's loutish assistant drowns and Mistress Ford is also dispatched, bringing the ten-day death toll to four. Rival baker John Overbecks now has his hands full handling his and Fairbrother's customers, preparing the centerpieces for the Lammas feast day, and watching over his simple-minded wife, who keeps abducting the Chapman's new baby (to the delight of his jealous half-brother and sister). Sheriff's assistant Richard Manifold, a former suitor of the Chapman's wife, is flummoxed, but since a nun's testimony implicates poor Roger, he settles on him as the author at least of Mistress Ford's demise. The Chapman will, of course, exonerate himself and, in time, pinpoint a murderous alliance meant to safeguard secrets held close since the long-ago massacres in Brittany. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 26, 2002

"A sinister and sensational explanation emerges only after several uncomfortable sleepovers on Roger's part and many prosy recapitulations on Sedley's."
The newly wedded bliss of Roger the Chapman, itinerant peddler and amateur sleuth (The Weaver's Inheritance, 2001, etc.), is interrupted when an irresistible impulse—a message from God, Roger knows from past experience—sends him to Plymouth. He spends his first night in Plymouth next door to a well-appointed house that stands empty, but not, Roger soon discovers, locked. Wealthy old Oliver Capstick's been clubbed to death by his great-nephew Beric Gifford, who has since disappeared—some say by eating the leaf of Saint John's fern to render him magically invisible. That night, Roger enters the house and finds a pin formed in the letters B.G. that supports the sordid story Roger soon ferrets out from eyewitnesses, who seem remarkably open to his unauthorized interrogations. Beric Gifford and his sister Berenice depended on their great-uncle's generosity and anticipated their inheritance to rescue them from their prodigality. Beric, however, inflamed Capstick when he proposed marrying his sister's maid, Katherine Glover. The morning after Capstick threatened to disinherit him, he was found dead. Witnesses saw a bloody Beric flee the scene of the crime, and nobody's seen him since—except for Roger, who thinks he's spotted the fugitive kissing Katherine Glover. Roger can't believe that Beric has been invisible all these months, chewing on fern leaves and succored by his sister and his lover, but what other possibility can there be? Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 1, 2001

"A far cry below The Wicked Winter (1999). Even so, few medieval mysteries rival Sedley's for verve, descriptive prowess, and authenticity."
There are two reasons for 15th-century English peddler Roger the Chapman to visit bustling, rat-infested London. First, to let his second wife Adela, in the early stages of pregnancy, see the city and the betrothal ceremony of two noble children little more than babies. And, second, to understand why King Edward wants to execute his brother, the Duke of Clarence, and find out what Roger's benefactor—the king's other brother, the Duke of Gloucester—plans to do about it. Gloucester asks Roger to call on the king's mistress and enlist her help in getting his brother released. Mistress Shore agrees, but only if Roger will prove her cousin Isolda innocent of poisoning her husband Gideon, thereby setting Roger up for what he does best: solve murders. He finds no shortage of suspects, from Isolda's cousins Kit and Nell, one of whom may have been having an affair with her and the other with her late husband, to her goldsmith father's intended, the widow Perle, whom Gideon may have been blackmailing about her affair with a neighbor. It's also clear that Toby, the goldsmith's apprentice, is lying. Finally, all too many of this precious circle either ordered poison from the nearest apothecary or had access to it in the household. Adela unintentionally provides the clue that absolves Isolda, though providing no help at all for poor Clarence. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 17, 2001

"Though the plot isn't as convincing as several others in this series (The Brothers of Glastonbury, 2000, etc.), Roger remains an appealingly sturdy, believable hero whose romantic impulses are resolved in this outing—at least for now."
A 15th-century widower with a two-year-old daughter, peddler/sleuth Roger the Chapman lives with his late wife's mother Margaret Walker in Bristol, where they've recently been joined by Margaret's widowed cousin Adela Jouett. Now, however, the apparently senseless murder of Imelda Bracegirdle has emptied a neighboring cottage that Roger manages to secure for Adela, to whom he's increasingly attracted. There's no need to fear the village gossips, because their attention is elsewhere: on the reappearance of Alderman Weaver's son Clement six years after his supposed murder in London—a crime Roger himself had investigated. The Alderman has welcomed the resurrected Clement unquestioningly, but his daughter Alison, married to William Burnett, has refused to recognize him as her brother. Her angry father has cut her out of his will, doubling the newcomer's share of his estate from half to all. Equally stung, Alison responds by asking Roger to prove the interloper an imposter. Carrying out this mission eventually leads Roger to London and nearly to his own demise as he follows unexpected paths to the truth, confronting a series of villains along the way. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 2001

"Sedley deftly camouflages down-to-earth villainy with the magical dust of romance, but Roger's calm detachment makes one wish for more Lancelot and less Percival."
The Duke of Clarence gives Roger the chapman, peddler by trade and meddler by fate (The Wicked Winter, 1999, etc.), his seventh errand: escort Cicely Armstrong, daughter of Clarence's sergeant-at-arms, to her fiancé, Peter Gildersleeve, in Glastonbury. After traveling with the coquette, Roger's only too eager to deliver her. When they arrive, however, they find that Peter has mysteriously vanished from a neighboring sheep farm. Since Peter's mother is frantic, and his hostile younger brother Mark worried, Roger stays to help. Perhaps Peter was buying sheepskins for the vellum the Gildersleeves manufacture. But what was he doing at a remote shepherd's hut? Confronted by a village that suspects witchcraft, Mark unlocks a chest of Peter's manuscripts, hoping Roger, who can read, will make sense of any magical tomes. Instead, Roger discovers two things: the existence of an ancient, indecipherable manuscript not found in Peter's chest, and the fact that Mark doesn't always sleep in his bed at night. But when Roger begins to investigate Mark's nocturnal activities, Mark disappears as well. Roger enlists the help of Glastonbury friars to decipher the cryptic manuscript, and a local honey merchant, Gilbert, to search for Mark. The monks, more successful than Gilbert, lead Roger to the manuscript's translation. Incredibly, it appears to reveal the location of the Holy Grail. Was Peter in pursuit of that legendary treasure? Did Mark join him in his fatal quest? Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 2, 1999

Sixth in a series set in medieval England and relating the adventures of Roger, a chapman (traveling peddler) living in Bristol—a widower with an infant child cared for by his mother-in-law when he's on the road. (The Eve of St. Hyacinth, 1996, etc.). Roger's latest journey has taken him toward the coast, in bitter cold weather, picking up gossip as he goes: there's much talk of the fanatical, fire-breathing preacher Father Simeon, and, as it transpires, Roger meets up with him as the Friar travels to Cederwell Manor. He's been sent for by Sir Hugh Cederwell's wife Jeanette, a pious woman with her own chapel at the top of a tower on the Manor grounds. Roger, ever on the hunt for customers, arrives with Father Simeon at the Manor, only to discover Lady Cederwell dead at the foot of the tower. The death is labeled an accident by Sir Hugh; his visiting mistress, widow Ursala Lynom; his son Maurice; Jeanette's half-brother Gerard and his wife Adela; along with the Manor's extensive staff. Invited to stay at the Manor in the face of heavy snows and impassable roads, Roger is present early the next morning when Gerard is found by his wife drowned in the freezing water of a well left uncovered. Accident? Murder? A third body, the hermit Ulnoth's, discovered by Roger, leaves him in no doubt and with strong intimations of the killer's identity—with the motive buried deep in the past. Leisurely, literate, and robust: entertaining all the way to its striking conclusion. Best in the series to date. Read full book review >
Released: May 14, 1996

Itinerant peddlar Roger the Chapman, now in his 70's, is recalling events of 50 years before, in 1475, when, for the third time (The Plymouth Cloak, 1993, etc.), he's called (by God, he's convinced) to use his detecting skills in the service of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, brother of King Edward. The road had led from Chilworth Manor in Southhampton, home of Sir Cedric and Lady Wardroper and their young son Matthew—just accepted into Duke Richard's household—to London, where the Duke awaits departure for yet another onslaught on France in his Majesty's service. But Roger has accidentally found the corpse of spy Thaddeus Morgan and uncovered what appears to be a conspiracy on the life of Duke Richard, to take place before the Eve of Saint Hyacinth. Roger joins Richard's court at Baynard's Castle in London, acquaints himself with Matthew Wardroper, Richard Boyse, Lionel Arrowsmith, Timothy Plummer, and others serving the Duke, ever trying to seek out the untrustworthy, as various attempts on the Duke's life fail. Not until Richard's court and its soldiers, along with those of King Edward and George, the Duke of Clarence, arrive in Calais, prepared for a siege that never happens, are perpetrator and motive revealed—not a moment too soon for the benumbed reader. A wearying chronicle of coincidences, whispered conversations, shadowy figures, and endless chewing over of possibilities—though it may be lightened for some by its scholarly, behind-the-scenes look at the domestic details of a royal court. Read full book review >
THE WEAVER'S TALE by Kate Sedley
Released: May 1, 1994

Five months after he's killed (in March 1473) by whoever stole the money his employer, Edward Herepath, had briefly lodged with him, and two months after Edward's ne'er-do-well younger brother Robert has been hanged for his murder, Edward's debt collector, William Woodward, limps back into Bristol, a great deal the worse for wear (he's been badly beaten and has lost most of his memory) but incontestably alive. Woodward insists he was sold into slavery in Ireland, but itinerant peddler/investigator Roger the Chapman (The Plymouth Cloak, 1993, etc.), laid up in Bristol a month after Woodward's second death, can't find any corroboration of his story when he investigates for Woodward's family (his hospitable daughter Margaret and his predatory granddaughter Lillis). What he does find is heresy, fraud, sexual jealousy—and, sadly, an unsurprising solution. Despite its promise, the mystery turns out to be little more than an anecdote. The reward here is the continuing modernity lurking under the shifts and doublets of Sedley's medieval figures. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 1993

A limp second outing for medieval peddlar Roger the Chapman finds him, in 1473, taking on another assignment for the Duke of Gloucester—this time, to keep the Duke's agent, Philip Underdown, safe until he can board The Falcon at Plymouth, two days hence, and sail for France with an important message for the Breton court. On their journey to the sea, two attempts are made on Philip's life. Then, alas, the ship is delayed, and they must put up at a local estate, where Philip's unsavory past comes back to plague him: he was a former slaver specializing in the sale of dwarves and children, whose growth he forcibly stunted with daisies and knotweed. Finally, despite Roger's best efforts, Philip is knifed and bludgeoned to death. Whodunit? A rival royal faction out to thwart his political mission or a victim from his slave-trade days? As Roger snoops and pokes about the manor (Ö la the pesky Miss Marple), numerous suspects abound—including an irate husband whom Philip may have cuckolded—before the downbeat, if not unexpected, conclusion. Less atmospheric than Death and the Chapman, and it takes much padding to stretch the skimpy plot to booklength. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 1992

A septuagenarian recalls his youth, when, in 1471, he quit the Benedictines (no calling), became a chapman (a wandering peddler), and discovered his affinity for detective work. A lusty romantic interlude leads him to a grieving alderman's house in Bristol, where Clement Weaver, the son, is missing—he accompanied his sister to London to shop and disappeared right down the lane from the Crossed Hands Inn. Six months later, Roger the Chapman is in Canterbury and hears of two other disappearances near the Crossed Hands Inn—that of Sir Richard Mallory and his servant. Are the incidents connected? Does royal politics have a hand in it? Roger hies to London and the pub across the way, the Baptist's Head, where he mentions his sleuthing to Thomas the innkeeper. Soon he's tailed and thwacked, rescuing a damsel locked away in the upper rooms of the Crossed Hands, and incurring royal indebtedness for it, but still in a dither as to the disappearances. It takes some drugged wine and an excursion to the cellar for Roger, the guard, and another inn patron to uncover the scheme and corral the perpetrators. Charming period piece: the scenery, occupations, and finery are medieval, but the foibles are of a contemporary nature. A strong debut. Read full book review >