Joyce and Jim Lavene
Berkley, Aug 2 2011, $7.99
It is the time of the year when University of South Carolina Assistant Professor Jessie Morton takes her vacation to work at the Renaissance Faire Village and Market Place in Myrtle Beach. She is studying crafts for her dissertation “The Proliferation of Medieval Crafts in Modern Times”. This year she is apprenticing under the tutelage of Andre Hariot, a hat-maker. Her one true love Chase Manhattan works as the bailiff.
At the beginning of her stay, Chase takes Jessie to the Three Chocolatiers Shoppe. They find the oldest sibling Cesar dead in a vat of chocolate with a hat pin in his eye and a hat on his face. Myrtle Beach Police Detective Almond believes the killer is Andre, who was under suspicion for the murder of his wife years ago; in both cases the victim had a hat pin in their respective eye. Jessie believes Andre is innocent in both homicides and sets out to prove her assertion, but finds most of the villagers want him to be the killer. She also has to tame the second in command of the Knight Templar who are disturbing the village and making life miserable for the players and vendors.
The Renaissance Faire mysteries (see Deadly Daggers and Ghastly Glass) are always an enjoyable read because besides being a thrilling whodunit fans get a glimpse of the village when the crowds are not walking around as beyond the glitter are real people working hard while also dealing with real problems. Joyce and Jim Lavene provide a complex exciting murder mystery that amateur sleuth fans will appreciate.