A Death in Gascony

A Death in Gascony by Sarah D’Almeida. This is another series where I’ve read only some of the stories, but these tales of the Four Musketeers during the 17th century reign of Louis XIII are self-contained and can be read individually. This most recent entry takes place six months after D’Artagnan arrives in Paris while he is still serving his apprenticeship before joining the Musketeers. A letter arrives informing him of the death of his father in a duel. D’Artagnan feels obligated to return to his home in Gascony to investigate and to take over management of the family lands. Naturally, his friends accompany him and when villains twice try to assassinate their young colleague, they suspect that his father’s death may not have been accidental. After settling at the D’Artagnan homestead, Athos, Porthos and Aramis each follow differing investigative trails using their own singular skills and interests. Suspects are plentiful including the widow, neighbors, and relatives. Naturally, Cardinal Richelieu’s influence comes into play here as well and adds further twists to the plots.

D’Almeida’s style is most reminiscent of Margaret Frazer’s, who contributes a book jacket quote (well, it would be a book jacket quote except that it’s a paperback, so there’s no actual book jacket) here. There’s plenty of descriptive prose of the characters, landscape and scenery and, like Frazer, too many pages devoted to the internal deliberations of each character. Fortunately, D’Almeida has four distinct investigators to describe, which at least provides readers with some variety. Also, she does include sufficient action scenes as one might expect from a Musketeers’ tale. Overall, the plot and characters are interesting and I look forward to more of the series.

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