The Beloved Dead
Tor, Mar 29 2011, $25.99
Acquiescing to the demands of the Lords, High King of Britannia Arthur ap Uther assigns his long time trusted supporter Malgwyn ap Cuneglas to escort his fiancée, the fourteen years old daughter of Lord Aircol, to Castellum Arturius where their marriage of political convenience will take place. The night before the one-armed scribe is to leave to escort back the future queen who is less than half the age of her fiancé; someone rapes and murders a woman. Although he would prefer to investigate in order to bring the predator to justice, he has no time as he departs on his escort duty.
Two other women are assaulted and killed while Malgwyn is on the road. When he returns to Castellum Arturius, he learns his cousin Guinevere is the prime murder suspect and she has fled to a monastery having a difficult time accepting her beloved Arthur is marrying someone else.
The third superb Malgwyn fifth century whodunit (see The Killing Way and The Divine Sacrifice) is once again a fantastic historical tale that brings to life Britannia in a way in which readers will believe they are at Arthur’s court along side the hero and Merlin. The whodunit is engaging and the reactions to the High King’s betrothal enjoyable and insightful as Tony Hays captures the essence of the Arthurian mythos yet puts his spin on it (through Malgwyn). Besides the Camelot crow, with a strong sense of time and place, fans of the Sister Fidelma mysteries also will enjoy this brisk saga to the Arthurian mythology.