Joyce and Jim Lavene
Berkley, Sep 7 2010, $7.99
During the school year, Jessie Morton is an associate professor of history at the University of South Carolina also working on her dissertation. In the summer, she is part of the Renaissance Faire Village as an apprentice to different craft artisans. This year she works under the tutelage of Master Armorer Daisy Reynolds.
Everyone connected to the Faire knows of Alistair the Great swordsman. Daisy, a hefty woman, is supposed to battle Alistair and lose, but she goes all out as she was attracted to him twenty years ago and when she tried again this year he dumped her just like before. . When they put on their sword fight, she creams him. The next time Alistair is seen, he is dead with a sword thrust through his chest. Daisy is the initial prime suspect, but attention soon turns elsewhere. In between her apprentice job and time with her lover the bailiff Chase Manhattan, she searches for Alistair’s missing sword as Jessie seeks who would have a motive to murder the legendary Faire swordsman.
The Lavene duet can always be counted on for an enjoyable whodunit as shown by the latest Renaissance Faire mystery and the previous two entries (See Wicked Weaves and Ghastly Glass). The Faire is a community with societal rules and culture populated by eccentrics who prefer to reside with the traveling troupe year round. That is what makes it difficult for “snowbirds” to participate. Jessie proves herself so is one of the few received openly though she knows she is not Peter Pan as Wendy grew up. The amateur sleuth is cleverly woven so that suspects seem everywhere once the story line spins from just Daisy as the killer. Filled with twists and red herrings, Deadly Daggers is a delightful mystery.