Expertly recreating the social and political upheavals of late medieval Europe, Candace Robb introduces a new series starring Kate Clifford, a woman forged on the warring northern marches of fourteenth century England.Political unrest permeates York at the cusp of the fifteenth century, as warring factions take sides on who should be the rightful king--Richard II or his estranged, powerful cousin in exile, Henry Bolingbroke. Independent minded twenty-year-old Kate Clifford is struggling to dig out from beneath the debt left by her late husband. Determined to find a way to be secure in her own wealth and establish her independence in a male dominated society, Kate turns one of her properties near the minster into a guest house and sets up a business. In a dance of power, she also quietly rents the discreet bedchambers to the wealthy, powerful merchants of York for nights with their mistresses.
But the brutal murder of a mysterious guest and the disappearance of his companion for the evening threatens all that Kate has built. Before others in town hear word of a looming scandal, she must call upon all of her hard-won survival skills to save herself from ruin.
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Betrayals, courtly machinations, old family feuds and murder provide a heady dose of intrigue. Kate Clifford is a strong and intelligent heroine. "The Service of the Dead" is a rich and satisfying story that will captivate the reader's attention.
[ I received this book free from the publisher through NetGalley. I thank them for their generousity. In exchange, I was simply asked to write an honest review, and post it. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising] “Cliffords prefer to use problems, not destroy them.” Kate Clifford, widowed young, has set herself and her household up fairly well as she continues to hide her late husband Simon's debts. She is a merchant. She owns a guesthouse and a few other small venues. She has taken in her late husband's children by his mistress, raising them as wards. She has kept to herself, sluffing off attempts from others to marry her in order to then get Simon's "estate". She is thought of well by servants and peers alike. However, she is flanked often by canine and human defenders. She feels safe as she can in York Minister in 1399.... However, being related to power and those who crave power isn't usually a safe way to live. The three murders that happen around her prove that. And in order to prove herself, she sets out to solve them and in turn, bring some safety to those surrounding her. This book's description intrigued me. A female head of household in a time where that wasn't seen let alone respected. Also, Candace Robb writes well, which helps drive the story but doesn't salvage it. The storyline is stilted in spots reminding me of a Jessica Fletcher like sleuth that stumbles upon situations and tries to stich together very divergent aspects of the story. As an Anglophile of long standing, I appreciate the work, but the story not so much.