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Monday, 11 November 2013

‘A Parliament of Spies’ by Cassandra Clark

Published by Allison & Busby.
ISBN: 978-07490-0962-5

Described on the jacket as "as exciting as CJ Sansom", for a fan of historical crime fiction, this book had a lot to live up to. 

Set in the late fourteenth century, the reader follows Abbess Hildegaard of Meaux - a cross between Miss Marple and Sister Wendy - as she travels across England in the retinue of the Archbishop of York. Charged with identifying the murderer of a young man in their group, and knowing that the killer is one of the travellers, she quickly realises that there is more going on than meets the eye.

Conspiracy theories abound as England prepares for a French invasion and it requires not an insignificant amount of concentration to stay abreast of all the characters, their activities and suspected allegiances. Solving the murder occasionally subsides into the background, especially when Hildegaard's husband - long thought dead - reappears determined to reclaim his lands and his wife.

So did it live up to its promise? Happily I can report that it did. Well researched, the resulting narrative is entertaining with descriptions of medieval markets, brawls and prisons creating a cosy fireside page turner.
Reviewer: Joanna Leigh

Cassandra Clark was born in the East Riding of Yorkshire where she grew up in a village near the ancient medieval market town of Beverley. For several years she wrote scripts for the theatre, radio and television as well as contemporary fiction while tutoring at the Open University. She won a Directors' Guild Award for a stage play and ran a lunch-time theatre in a Tudor inn in York.  She is the author of the acclaimed series featuring Abbess Hildegard and her sidekick Brother Thomas. A Parliament of Spies is the fourth in the series. Her childhood spent in Yorkshire was her inspiration for the series. She now lives in London

Joanna Leigh studied French and German at university. She works in the aerospace industry and is a chartered marketer in the UK. She describes herself as a voracious reader, enjoying genres as varied as crime thrillers, historical fiction and autobiographies. Joanna lives in London. She is the daughter of crime thriller writer Leigh Russell.

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