Hanley, C.B. The Sins of the Father: A Mediaeval Mystery. Mystery Pr., dist. by Trafalgar Square. Feb. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9780752480916. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9780752482552. m
The year is 1217, and all forces in the Yorkshire region are gathering at the Earl of Surrey’s castle and preparing to head for battle against the invading French. With extraordinarily bad timing, a much-reviled visiting nobleman is murdered, and the killer must be apprehended before the men head out. The Earl appoints young Edwin Weaver, son of the dying bailiff, to investigate. Initially daunted, Edwin quickly draws upon his own common sense and the expertise of others to figure out the closed-room case. He discovers the castle is full of scandals and that someone will kill again in order to keep them secret. VERDICT Medieval scholar Hanley begins a trilogy with an admirable debut. Abundant foreshadowing in a horrific prolog sets the stage for a slowly unfolding drama. With just enough red herrings for those who delight in puzzling out identities and motives, the mystery may be solved by some readers before the brand-new sleuth uncovers the killer. Excellent crossover appeal for historical fiction buffs as well.