In 1201, a Templar goes into a brothel in Acre and accidentally kills a man. A year later, in the city of Lincoln, England, a secretive figure, with the promise of ten shillings, convinces a prostitute to secretly enter a Templar enclave as part of a harmless wager. Soon she is dead.
Author Maureen Ash has written what appears to be nine stand-alone books in her ‘Templar Mystery’ series. ‘Shroud of Dishonour’ is book five in the series. I have not read any of the other books.
The talented sleuth in these tales is Bascot de Marins, a thirty-something Templar who was injured during an eight-year captivity in the Holy Land. He has lost the use of his right eye and walks with a limp but still hopes to return to the Outremer and rejoin the fight. This, however, proves difficult when the body of a woman is discovered in the Templar’s Lincoln enclave.
Because of Bascot’s familiarity with the local sheriff, Roget, and reputation as an investigator, the Preceptor, Everard d’Arderon, asks Bascot to assist the sheriff in solving the mystery to help protect the honor of the Order.
The author is masterful in her handling of the vernacular. The reader is drawn fully into the medieval theme, clued into the formalities and traditions of the time and place. It is all very clean, nothing sexual or overtly violent.
Bascot is actually bound by certain conventions that will inhibit his handling of discoveries if the perpetrator is a member of the Order. It’s not as simple as exposing and arresting a Templar.
I noticed in some other reviews that people were put off by the language, ‘… d’Arderon decided to hold a series of mock skirmishes on the hillside below the preceptory, using the rolling slope of the hill to simulate the arid terrain in the hot climes of the Outremer and the Iberian Peninsula.’
I actually found the author’s descriptions of settings to be the books chief strength. The author is knowledgeable of the subject matter and it bleeds through everything she writes.
The drawback for me were the characters. I personally felt the characters lacked depth, even Bascot. The story was interesting enough, the mystery holding your interest to the end but I never felt much of anything for any of the characters.
I’m not sure at this point if I will read another book in the series but if I do it will be because of the medieval jargon. The authors talent here is unquestioned. 3 stars.
Allen M Werner is the author of the epic fantasy series, The Crystal Crux.
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