Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Parisian Prodigal-Alan Gordon

The Parisian Prodigal
Alan Gordon
Minotaur, Jan 19 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9780312384142

In 1205 Toulouse, France, the stranger arrives at the chateau of Count Raimon VI. Baudoin insists he is Raimon’s brother. The Count immediately assumes he is a con artist trying to defraud him so he plans to let his so called sibling sweat in the icy dungeon. However, his court jester Theophilos the fool suggests he reconsider until they find proof exposing the imposter.

Raimon assigns Theo the job to investigate the newcomer using the ruse to tutor Baudoin. Inquiries are sent to Paris where Baudoin claims he comes from. However, the identity inquiry turns ugly when La Rossa of the brothel is found dead after a night with Baudoin who was found asleep next to her corpse; his dagger in her body. Theophilos, his wife, Claudia, mime Perladit, and twelve years old apprentice Helga investigate the homicide.

This medieval mystery saga uses the same basic ploy of the Fool’s Guild as a sort of thirteenth century French Secret Service-FBI-CIA. This saga is consistently is one of the best historical series on the market over the last decade (see A Death in the Venetian Quarter and The Lark's Lament). With two investigations to handle, Theophilos and Claudia are superb as he works the gambling dens of the aristocracy and she the courtesans who tend to these foolish egotistical males. Helga and Perladit enhance the inquiry into who killed the hooker while her lover the Count’s maybe brother slept.

Harriet Klausner