Monday, June 22, 2009

The Lancelot Murders-J.M.C. Blair

The Lancelot Murders
J.M.C. Blair
Berkley, May 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425228135

Camelot is a leaky aging castle that contains secret passages and crumbling ruins yet remains the seat of power of King Arthur of Britain. His is not an easy rule ever since his Queen Guinevere hatched plots to unseat him and replace him as the ruler of the realm. Guinevere resides at Corfe Castle, better known as Spider House. Her lover Sir Lancelot lives with her. Merlin and Arthur learn they married and she has met with the Byzantine Empire representatives as if she and her new “spouse” are the true monarchs instead of the love-struck fool on the hill.

She is throwing herself a birthday bash in which foreign ambassadors from all over Europe are coming. Merlin, who gets touchy when called sorcerer as he believes he is a scientist, persuades Arthur into allowing the gala to happen; only he will meet with the European VIPs. Things go awry culminating with Lancelot standing over the corpse of Guinevere’s father while assassination attempts are made on Arthur. Merlin concludes the Queen’s sire was murdered and finds the weapon. He believes Lancelot is innocent, but considers allowing the seditious knight to take the fall. Reluctantly at Arthur’s bequest, Merlin head to the castle of Guinevere’s parents to find the clue that will catch the sly killer.

This is not the Camelot of legend, but instead a country filled with intrigue, double crossing, betrayals, and ambitious people especially an unfaithful queen who believes she is better suited to rule. Arthur pines for his treacherous wife and by default allows Merlin to set the standards of rule based on justice for all. This angers the aristocracy of whom many support the bodacious seditious queen as she demands a return to the proper order of noble superiority. Ironically Arthur is an average person except for his steadfast belief in creating a better society while dealing with backstabbers starting with his beloved. As with THE EXCALIBUR MURDERS, J.M.C. Blair provides a majestic andenthralling mystery

Harriet Klausner