Cruel as the Grave

Cruel as the Grave

3.9 (2,701 ratings by Goodreads)
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This is the second medieval mystery from Sharon Penman, following Justin de Quincy, knight in the service of Queen Eleanor. His duty is clear: to restrain his brother Prince John in his relentless quest for the throne, and his dangerous pacts with the French king. What does the murder of an innocent pedlar's daughter in a churchyard in Cripplegate have to do with him? But little by little, Justin is ensnared in the case until he comes to feel the force of the dead girl, and thirsts to find her killer. But can he defend the Queen and solve the murder?show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 109.22 x 180.34 x 20.32mm | 90.72g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 0140270760
  • 9780140270761
  • 923,155

Review Text

Henry Plantagenet's Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, is well-known to Sharon Penman's readers from her 12th-century trilogy, which began with When Christ and His Saints Slept; securing for the author a firm foothold as a popular historical novelist. Eleanor, at 70 and recently widowed - still 'a compelling woman' respected, loved and feared by her Courtiers, appears again in a new series of historical mysteries featuring the Bishop of Chester's unacknowledged by-blow Justin de Quincy, the Queen's unofficial, half-secret, intelligence agent, whose current task is to keep a close eye on the movements of the Queen's youngest son John. Hungry for power, John is desperate to prove that his elder brother Richard the Lionheart has died in a Bavarian prison, leaving the route to the throne open to himself. Justin's hands are more than full when news comes of John's collusion with the King of France, and seizure of Windsor Castle; and simultaneously a plea from his friends and neighbours for him to discover the callous killer of the pretty young daughter of a poor pedlar, brutally done to death in a local churchyard. Poor Justin is also having trouble with his wilful mistress Claudine, a Lady of the Court. His only true comfort is a newly-acquired pet dog, Shadow, a young stray plucked just in time from the river Fleet and now his devoted slave. Living as he does two lives - one at Court, the other in the murkier but livelier reaches of the city - Justin's story introduces the reader to a colourful miscellany of 12th-century London society and their daily lives. This is a splendid new series (introduced in The Queen's Man) not to be missed by anyone with a taste for medieval history, for there are 'real' people here, as well as imaginary ones. See whether you can spot which is which! (Kirkus UK)show more

Author information

Sharon Penman, author of several bestselling historical novels including THE SUNNE IN SPLENDOUR and WHEN CHRIST AND HIS SAINTS SLEPT, is one of the most respected and successful novelists in her field. She lives in New Jersey, more

Rating details

2,701 ratings
3.9 out of 5 stars
5 26% (706)
4 42% (1,146)
3 27% (733)
2 4% (106)
1 0% (10)
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