Monday, September 23, 2013

Historical Fiction Virtual Tours Book Review: The Study Of Murder

Publication Date: September 18, 2013

Five Star Publishing

Hardcover; 264p

ISBN-10: 1432827200

The Study of Murder pits Scottish sleuth Muirteach MacPhee against a mysterious adversary in the medieval town of Oxford in 1374.At the command of the Lord of the Isles, Muirteach and his wife Mariota accompany Donald, the lord’s surly thirteen-year-old son, to Oxford where Donald is to enroll in university. Shortly after their arrival a winsome tavern maid disappears. At his charge’s insistence, Muirteach attempts to help Undersheriff Grymbaud with the investigation, as well as keep Donald at his studies and out of the taverns. He has little success with either venture, although the discovery of some bizarre and suggestive drawings on old parchments piques the curiosity of Donald and his peers. Meanwhile, Mariota thirsts to attend medical lectures at the schools, which are closed to women, and seeks a way to gain admittance to them. When an Oxford master is found brutally bludgeoned to death, Grymbaud asks Muirteach to investigate the slaying. The eventual arrest of an aged servant at the college stirs the ever-simmering discord between townsfolk and university students. The unrest culminates in riots and another senseless killing occurs, endangering Mariota. Gleaning clues from a cryptic manuscript and desperate to save his wife, a determined Muirteach tracks a wily killer through a dark and twisted labyrinth of deceit.

Review:  I've discovered so many wonderful historical mysteries this year, and I can now add The Study of Murder to that list. This is one of those books you could easily pass by because the cover does nothing to really draw you in. Please don't do that.

The characters Muirteach and Mariota are wonderful, both of them are smart, but Mariota is beyond that, being the daughter of a physician and one that really absorbs knowledge. She's definitely unusual, considering this book is set in 1374.

Its wonderful how the two work together and how much they love each other

Then there's Donald. He's the type of boy that trouble finds no matter where he goes and he's the one that gets Muirteach and Mariota involved in the case of the disappearing serving girl as well as the gruesome death of one of Oxford's masters.

These are character's you really like from the start and the attention to historical detail is marvelous. There was only one other historical mystery I've liked quite as much as I did this one and that was Sam Thomas' The Midwife's Tale. I can't wait to hunt down the other books in this series.

McDuffie writes a novel that is short but full of twists and turns. There is more than one crime to be solved as the story progresses, and up until the last page, you are wondering just who the killer is and where Jodetta has gone.

If you are looking for something a little different in a mystery series, this is definitely one to try

Rating: 5 flowers


Susan McDuffie said...

Thanks so much for your review of THE STUDY OF MURDER. I'm thrilled you enjoyed Muirteach's sojourn in Oxford! The first two books in the series, A MASS FOR THE DEAD and THE FAERIE HILLS are both available as e-books and hardbacks--hope you have a good time with them, too. :-)

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