Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Outlaw's Tale by Margaret Frazer

I searched high and low for The Outlaw’s Tale, the next book in Margaret Frazer’s incredible series featuring Dame Frevisse. Finally I found and downloaded the Kimble version. The wait was worth the effort. The Outlaw’s Tale delivers as much action as mystery.

The story opens with Dame Frevisse accompanying Sister Emma who is on her way to a family christening when they are take by a band of outlaws. They are treated well and Frevisse finds out to her surprise the outlaws are led by her cousin Nicholas, whom she hasn’t seen in sixteen years or more. He swears he has changed his ways and implores her to write to their uncle, Thomas Chaucer (son of Geoffrey) to see if he can arrange a pardon for him and his men.

Frevisse is unsure but happy to help her cousin. Before all this can happen, the fragile, flibbertigibbet Emma is taken ill from her exposure to the elements. Nicholas arranges for them to seek help for her at the manor of a man with whom he has done business.

She is doubtful about what these business dealings might include but busies herself taking care of Emma. The widowed sister of the manor lord is eager to help and Frevisse discovers the reason why. There may be a connection between the widow and Nicholas or one of his men.

Frevisse finds her self in the middle of a family feud after a brutish, despicable man wanting the widow’s hand in marriage is murdered. Despite her cousin’s reassurances that he has changed his ways, Frevisse isn’t quite convinced. Nicholas appears to be more involved with the family than he lets on.

The Outlaw’s Tale is either a short book or an easy read because the pages flew by. I read it in two sittings over a weekend. I like the references to Frevisse’s family and the memories she has of her childhood, since it brings her to life, which other characters similar to Frevisse lack. She is humble but not unassuming. She’s someone with whom the reader can connect and root for.

I didn’t find it to be as complex as the other Frevisse mysteries but as I mentioned before, it has action and suspense. I devoured it like all the others and am ready for the next.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Haunted Abbot by Peter Tremayne

I love a good haunted house story and although The Haunted Abbot didn’t linger much on spooky happenings at Aldred’s Abbey, it’s still a great mystery. Tremayne not only brings out the amazing culture of ancient Ireland but that of the British Isles including the Britons and Saxons as well.

Sister Fidelma’s companion in Tremayne’s incredible series, Brother Eadulf of Seaxmund’s Ham is a Saxon religieuse, which seems to be a contradiction in terms given their violent culture. As in the previous novel Smoke in the Wind, Eadulf is confronted repeatedly with the facts that his people are warriors and many of them adhere to their pagan ways. Although his has converted to Christianity, he is fiercely defensive of the Saxons and easily insulted with confronted by more enlightened peoples such as Fidelma’s Irish culture.

Eadulf and Fidelma travel through the Saxon wilderness toward Eadulf’s birthplace. He received an urgent message from a childhood friend, Brother Botolf to come to Aldred’s Abbey on a specific date and time. They manage to reach the abbey through a fierce blizzard just before the appointed hour, only to find Botolf has been murdered just hours before. While the bitterly cold weather takes a toll on Fidelma, Eadulf sets out to solve the mystery of his friend’s death. From the very start, he meets solid resistance from Abbot Cild, the very un-Christianlike head of Aldred’s Abbey. The cold, strict abbot has closed the community to all women and threatens to send Eadulf and Fidelma back into the bitter weather despite Fidelma’s illness.

There is also the ghost of a young woman, bearing a striking resemblance to the abbots’ deceased wife haunting the corridors of the abbey.

Despite the lack of evidence, Abbot Cild is convinced a local outlaw is responsible for the murder of Brother Botolf. He is equally adamant that Fidelma is a witch and has conjured the image of his late wife. Eadulf and Fidelma are warned from the very beginning that there is much evil in the abbey. They find not only evil but a sinister plot to deliver the Saxons into the hands of their long-time enemies, the Mercians.

To me, there is more than a passing resemblance of the plot in The Haunted Abbot to Smoke in the Wind, in which an enemy of the country infiltrated an abbey to use the brethren as pawns to draw the King’s troops into a futile battle, leaving the throne unprotected from its enemy neighbor. In The Haunted Abbot, an enemy of the country infiltrates Aldred’s Abbey to use it as a base of operations for nearly the same goal.

However, this novel lacks the brutality of the previous one and Tremayne focuses more on intrigue and subterfuge instead of violence. Also in this story, Fidelma and Eadulf advance their relationship as she agrees to become his ‘beloved woman’, which means she can enjoy all the benefits of marriage, although Eadulf has much more to gain than her. Besides this step to the next level, there doesn’t seem to be as much love and between them as simple companionship. Nothing has changed since the first novel, except that Eadulf doesn’t take Fidelma’s outbursts personally anymore.

Still, I’d like to see something more of romance, if something of the sort existed in ancient Ireland.

Five Star review for Murder at the Green Lantern!

Jon Michaelsen, author of "Voyeur" and soon-to-be-released "Pretty Boy Dead", gave Murder at the Green Lantern a Five-Star rating and great review on!

After a fetish party at a gay bar in Washington, DC, a young man is murdered and left nailed to a St. Andrew’s Cross. Paranormal gay sleuth Corey Shaw thinks someone has passed a divine judgment on him, and may be a signal to other gays in the city. In this second Corey Shaw novel, author Alex Morgan has created a web of mystery and deceit, a suprising if not all-too-common insight into a family torn apart by a reluctance to accept a gay son. The mystery surrounding the death of young Aiden is top-notch, an edge-of-your seat suspensful page-turner. The author comes across with a clear message of love and acceptance through the cloud of bigotry and discrimination that culminates into senseless murder. Murder At The Green Lantern triumphs, a must-read for any gay mystery lover!

Thanks, Jon!

Look for "Voyeur" in MEN - The Anthology available at