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by Kate Sedley

Pub Date: July 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-7278-8275-2
Publisher: Severn House

Even the Christmas season of 1483 can’t slow down Roger the Chapman’s propensity for problem-solving.

Roger is at home with his family in Bristol working to make the 12 days of the holiday festive. The children are particularly pleased with a small troupe of mummers, and Roger is enjoying all the extra food and drink, when a prominent citizen is found murdered and mutilated. The man was a friend of Sir George Marvell, a wealthy war hero disliked by almost everyone, including his own family. After saving Marvell from an assault by an Irish slave trader, Roger is surprised to hear Marvell write off the incident as a case of mistaken identity. When Marvell vanishes, a determined search reveals nothing until Roger and Marvell’s grandson James discover his mutilated body in his former home outside Bristol. Roger and James follow the trail of a young man who had paid court to Marvell’s wealthy older sister, only to be beaten and chased out of the area. Certain that he’s seeking revenge, they do their best to track him down. In the meantime, Roger is attacked several times by someone who thinks he knows too much. Roger’s determination to find the killer reaches a white-hot pitch after a young family friend to whom he’s given his old cloak is murdered—mistaken for him?

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.