The Alehouse Murders

The Alehouse Murders by Maureen Ash.  When four murder victims are discovered in an alehouse the day before the Lincoln fair begins, the town’s female castellan and keeper of the peace, Nicolaa de la Haye, realizes that this crime must be solved quickly and quietly before the town and its many visitors panic and before the recently crowned King John hears the news and removes her from her position.  She calls upon her clerk, Sir Bascot de Marins, a Templar Knight on temporary leave from the Order, to investigate.  What do the alehouse keeper, a Jew, a harlot and a young man have in common that would cause their murders?  Bascot, with the assistance of his mute servant boy, Gianni, must sort through the lies told by witnesses and the dangerous rivalries of the greedy, local gentry to eventually confront the killer.

There are so many medieval mysteries series set in England that it is hard for an author to distinguish themselves from the pack.  Ash’s attention to detail certainly matches the others and her intricate plot is better than some, but her writing style is not unique and her character development beyond Bascot is lacking.  Readers get overfed Bascot’s back story, especially for the first of a series, and so little of anyone else’s that no other characters stand out.  I will be interested to see if anyone steps forward in the second volume.

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