Book Review: The Alehouse Murders by Maureen Ash

The Alehouse Murders (Templar Knight Mystery, #1)The Alehouse Murders by Maureen Ash
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Set in the Summer of 1200 A.D. Lincoln, England, this mystery is the first in a series of which I shall definitely be reading more.
It is well-researched. The historical details are amazing. The main character, Bascot de Marins, is a Templar Knight who is on leave from the Order after returning to England from being kept prisoner by the Saracens. He is burnt out and disillusioned, wounded in body and spirit. Being literate in an age when few are, he gives steward’s service to the chatelaine of the castle where he is recovering, Lady Nicolaa de Hayes (an actual historical figure, as is her husband, Sheriff Gerard Camville).
When four people are discovered brutally murdered in one of the town’s alehouses, two of them strangers, one a Jewish moneylender, the last the aleman himself, Lady Nicolaa, to placate her husband, offers to handle the investigation under her own aegis rather than suffer him the cost. She turns to de Marins for the investigation. Onion-like, the mystery unfolds. Clues are discovered. Witnesses are questioned and details come to light. More murders ensue. The reader is tantalized. The wealth of historical detail is astounding, yet unobtrusive. I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure out the identity of the killer. There were so many with a motive and the opportunity, each as plausible as the next. The end is a bit of a twist.
All of the characters are well-fleshed out and engaging. The language is at once true to the era and understandable in context for the modern reader. I was recommended this book because of my interest in the Brother Cadfael Mysteries. I am glad I took the bait. I will be purchasing the rest of this series as budget permits.

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