The Girl in the Ice by Jason Vail
Jason Vail is in danger of transforming from a speculative e-author into a bona fide murder mystery writer. “The Wayward Apprentice” and the next three Stephen Attebrook novels have shown a rapidly maturing writing style, plot complexity, historical understanding, and intriguing sense of mystery. All set in the time of King Henry III of England – not bad for a writer from Florida.
I came to these novels fairly early in Vail’s publishing of them and I have to say they are affable novels where the author has understood quickly that you need both a flawed sleuth and a rotund, sharp-tongued yet utterly loyal sidekick – Gilbert Wistwode in this case. It’s something that works perfectly for the likes of Susanna Gregory and worked for Ellis Peters. It works here.
Our foot-maimed Deputy Coroner, a man with a pervasive sense of conscience and a desire for the truth, finds himself investigating the frozen dead teenage beauty outside Saint Laurence’s churchyard. As Vail’s resident humorist, Harry, remarks: “Nice day for finding corpses in the churchyard.”. Whilst the inhabitants of Ludlow are falling all over themselves in commercial haste to profit off a new “saint”, Stephen finds himself heading back towards Clun – where the action of the last novel occurred – to wrap up the mystery of seven dead people. A mystery set in the last novel, but never followed up by Vail till now. This time the head of the dead family – Adam Saltehus – wants to know who killed them. Lady Margaret reappears (“Baynard’s List”) when Stephen heads to Shrewsbury and also tasks him with finding the bandits who are robbing and murdering from four of her associates – Bromptone included, another character reappearing from “A Dreadful Penance”.
What follows is a foray into archery, banditry, thuggery, brutish lords and nasty henchmen. Stephen suffers beatings, tip toes around darkened village, towns and small castles… all in an effort to trace a dandelion emblem on a salt barrel and a cursed ring. With the denouement in a carriage there is a sad confession and an understanding that “the heart is such a odd thing, it goes where it wills and can cause all manner of trouble when not properly disciplined.”
All manner of trouble is precisely what Stephen is good at solving and Jason Vail is turning into a rather remarkable murder mystery writer.
This The Girl in the Ice book review was written by travelswithacanadian
All reviews for: A Stephen Attebrook Mystery
The Wayward Apprentice
A Stephen Attebrook Mystery #1
Stephen Attebrook, a crippled knight facing poverty and ruin, seems condemned to a quiet life when he takes a position as deputy coroner in the small town of Ludlow. ...
A Stephen Attebrook Mystery #2
October 1262 should have been a quiet month, that melancholy time following the death of summer dedicated to the chores of readying Ludlow for the onset of winter and the h...
A Dreadful Penance
A Stephen Attebrook Mystery #3
November 1262 is an unlikely season for war. But war nonetheless is coming to the March, the wild borderland between England and Wales. Not the war that most fear between t...
The Girl in the Ice
A Stephen Attebrook Mystery #4
December 1262 is one of the harshest in living memory. A series of terrible blizzards strikes England, falling with particular heaviness on the March, the blood-soaked bord...
St Milburga's Bones
A Stephen Attebrook Mystery #5
War has come again to the March of England and Wales. An army under Prince Edward is massing at Ludlow to subdue the Welsh after their invasion of the autumn of 1262, which...
A Stephen Attebrook Mystery Prequel
Eustace FitzWalter, Giselle de Hafton, and Robert Attebrook could not be more different. Eustace is the bastard son of an earl, Giselle the sheltered daughter of a dotting ...
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