Death and the Devil

Death and the Devil by Frank Schatzing.  Cologne, Germany in 1260 was a major economic and religious city, wealthy and rapidly growing.  But it also could be quite unpleasant: rainy, muddy, cold and dismal, politically torn apart between a domineering archbishop, the established merchant families, eager to regain their lost power, but suspicious of each other, and the ambitious new-money burghers.  Into the middle of this struggle stumbles our hero, Jacob, a small-time thief barely surviving on his own.  Jacob witnesses the murder of the new cathedral’s architect and must now evade the unrelenting killer.  With the help of a few unlikely friends, he must also uncover the conspiracy behind the murder that threatens the city with more violence.  Occasionally the story goes off-course with its religious disputations, but it has likeable characters trying to save the day against a first-rate villain, who is intelligent and ruthless, mysterious and noble.  Schatzing does a nice job in his descriptive prose and also shows readers the fragile nature of conspiracies.


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