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CL Grace aka PC Doherty

The Merchant of Death

St Martin's Press 1995

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This third novel in the acclaimed series featuring medieval physician and chemist Kathryn Swinbrooke opens just before Christmas in H71. Snowstorms have blanketed the city of Canterbury. Kathryn and her cook Thomasina are busily preparing for the holiday, when terrible news arrives: The painter Richard Blunt has confessed to killing his young wife, along with two men who were dallying with her. Kathryn is disturbed by Blunt's serene demeanor, but before she can articulate her suspicions, another death captures her attention. A tax collector, Sir Reginald Erpingham, has been found dead in his room at the Wicker Man tavern, and the King's monies have been stolen. Kathryn quickly determines that the collector was murdered, perhaps by poison, and begins questioning the guests at the tavern. Kathryn's inquiry dovetails with the investigation of Colum Murtagh, a soldier for the Crown who must locate the missing tax monies. The two banter even as they work, quoting from Chaucer and kindling a mutual attraction. Kathryn's primary suspect is the tax collector's clerk, a shifty little man named Vavasouróbut she revises her opinion when he vanishes, presumably drowned under mysterious circumstances in a pond behind the tavern. Meanwhile, there are patients to be cared for, a practice to build, and a household to maintainóbut Kathryn must put aside these pleasant duties if she is to find the link between Richard Blunt and the strange events at the Wicker Man tavern.

CL Grace - PC Doherty

Classic Crime Fiction

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