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Murder for Christ's Mass [Mass Market Paperback]

Maureen Ash
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Dec 1 2009 A Templar Knight Mystery
The town of Lincoln is covered in snow?concealing the mortal remains of a clerk who worked in the local mint. The only clue is a pristine coin stamped with the visage of King Stephen. But Templar Bascot de Marins soon discovers that the motive goes beyond money?and beyond mere murder.




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Murder for Christ's Mass + Death of a Squire: A Templar Knight Mystery + A Plague of Poison
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3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 Stars - Murder at Christmas time Jan. 4 2010
By L. J. Roberts TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
First Sentence: The stone quarry lay still and silent under the maelstrom of wind and raging clouds scudding in the skies above.

A body of a clerk for the local mint is found having been dumped in a mine. The only clue is a pristine coin from the reign of King Stephen. Castellan Nicolla de la Haye and her husband Sheriff Gerard Camville have asked templar Bascot de Marins, who has had prior success in uncovering murderers, solve this crime.

I do enjoy this series. Ash creates a very strong sense of time and place. With each book, I learn a bit more history both of England and the Templars. It is that level of detail I appreciate and find fascinating.

Ash's characters are very strong and I appreciate the back-story she provides on them. Marins seemed less conflicted in this book and it also made me wonder whether this is the end of the series, which I would find sad.

Although the story lacked suspense, it was very well plotted. I appreciate when I never quite know where it is going next. There was an excellent, unforeseen twist at the end I particularly enjoyed.

The books may not have the complexity or depth of Susanna Gregory, but for those who enjoy mysteries set in the Middle Ages, this was a better-than-good book in a very good series.

MURDER FOR CHRIST'S MASS (Hist. Mys- Bascot de Marins-England-Middle Ages/1201/02) - G+
Ash, Maureen ' 4th in series
Berkeley, 2009, US Papaback, - ISBN: 9780425231579
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Cozy to Engender that Cozy Christmas Feeling Dec 21 2009
By Tricia Huff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The shortest day of the year, December 21, 1201, is the last for young Peter Bland, clerk in the medieval village of Lincoln, England. A few days later on Christmas Day a hard snow turns into rain melting the snowy blanket that once covered the man's remains. Found at the bottom of the local quarry the corpse reveals a stolen purse, a blow to the head, a stab to the heart, and most mysteriously a small coin in shiny mint condition bearing the image of former monarch King Stephen.

Enter templar knight and successful sleuth Bascot de Marins along with his adopted son and sidekick, the mute orphan, Gianni. Another murder follows soon after and a hidden treasure trove from the time of King Stephen is the suspected cause. In the past currency was issued by and showed allegiance to certain kings, and woe to the person found with a stash of a rival's coin. Though thrilling to find such a hoard it was a treasure with a lot of strings attached, a situation similar to the current trade in stolen antiquities where provenance must often be manufactured and transactions clothed in secrecy. But justice was far harsher for past offenders than it is today. The loss of body parts or life itself was the expected punishment. Even the hint of possession of such contraband treasure may cause the current monarch, suspicious King John, to attribute treason to the ruling aristocrats of Lincoln, castellan Nicolaa de la Haye and her husband Sheriff Gerard Camville. Once again working under difficult time constraints de Marins must find both the murderer and the trove quickly so that rumor may be quenched by fact.

For those readers of the series already familiar with the cast there is less character development of de Marins and greater emphasis on Gianni and his new position as scribe. Also very little is made of some characters we have grown attached to from previous works such as the aristocrats and their retinue. Instead the author introduces new characters with a special focus on those female characters whose perceptions align with the reader's as we and de Marins sadly witness how a medieval woman's fate ebbs and flows, sometimes tragically, in response to the actions of the men on whom they depend. (I hope to see more of these women, especially the feisty trollop Iseault whose shallow insulting nature reveals so much about others as they respond to her reprehensible personality.)

In the fashion of Louise Erdrich, Ash appears to be developing a larger cast of minor characters within one geographic area, characters upon whom she may later elaborate in future works. Some readers may be disappointed by both the more relaxed pace and the de-emphasis of de Marins. Additionally if you haven't been reading from the start you may find it hard to engage with de Marins as he contemplates return to his Order and what that will mean in both his own life and in Gianni's. Though quieter and less action packed, still I enjoyed this continuation in the larger story of Lincoln and its townspeople. The violence and gore of the murders is muted and for those that like their cozies to actually engender a cozy feeling this one will entertain without disrupting your Christmas spirit.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great research, vivid descriptions Jan. 22 2010
By TaeKwonDodo - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I actually do like Maureen Ash's series of books involving the Templar knight, Bascot de Marins, and his young sidekick, Gianni. She does a very good job of describing - the environment, the clothing, the food, the way of life - it all is vividly described and presents a very clear picture of life for both the peasant and ruling classes at that time. To me, that is a sign of meticulous research, and I admire that. I don't like reading historical novels full of gross errors and inaccurate representations - to me, it detracts from the storyline. That being said, the novel details the murders of two men in the village of Lincoln that seem to be linked with an old coin stamped with a former ruler, King Stephen. There is clearly a treasure trove hidden somewhere, with someone being willing to kill to keep it. Various suspects appear throughout the story, and the author adds clues throughout which lead our protagonists upon varying paths. In truth, while I like the description and the development of characters, I find that the actual mystery was less interesting, and I am not convinced that a reader could have solved it based upon what clues were given. I do think that it is very difficult to construct a good mystery tale, however, and much of what I enjoy about historical mysteries is more the ambiance than the actual conundrum itself. Conversations at time seemed stilted and rather awkward, whereas her prose flows when she is embarking upon narrative. However, I do think that the books are improving - I think each one gets better, and her characters are interesting enough that I do care about what happens to them. This book tends to focus less upon Bascot and more upon Gianni and his continued development into a young man. Other established characters like Nicolaa barely make an appearance, whereas attention is placed upon numerous secondary characters while making some social commentary upon the times. I do recommend this series, but I would probably also say that they should be read in order.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable trek back in time May 30 2010
By Cheryl A. Reynolds - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
#4 Bascot de Marins "Templar Knight" mystery set in Lincoln, UK in 1201. Bascot, a Templar Knight recovering from several years of capture in the Middle East by serving as a household knight to Nicolaa de la Haye, investigates a murder for her husband, Gerard Camville who is the Sheriff. A young apprentice who works at the mint is found stabbed in the heart on Christmas morning, although he has been dead a few days already.

Bascot's observant young assistant Gianni spots a coin in the vicinity, and it turns out to be an old coin minted during the reign of King Stephen decades ago. Bascot and Camville both fear this means there is a treasure trove nearby and seek to find it lest King John accuse Camville of treachery and withholding monies from the crown--while Nicolaa de la Haye holds the king's favor, the Sheriff has been less than supportive in times past. One death leads to another as Bascot, Gianni and Camville strive to locate not only the murderer from among a whole smorgasbord of suspects, but to find the treasure trove before Twelfth Night, which signals the end of the Christmas holidays and the return of the county's coroner--who would be sure to put in a bad word for Gerard Camville with the King any time he can.

I really enjoy this series as the author does a wonderful job of showing 'what things were like' back in that time period without making you realize she's taught you something. While some of the minor characters are a bit two-dimensional, and the dialogue sometimes seems a little flat, the sense of time and mood is truly outstanding. It will be interesting to see in the next book if Bascot truly does rejoin the Templar order and leaves Gianni training as a clerk in Lincoln, or if circumstances have him staying around.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 Stars - Murder at Christmas time Jan. 4 2010
By L. J. Roberts - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
First Sentence: The stone quarry lay still and silent under the maelstrom of wind and raging clouds scudding in the skies above.

A body of a clerk for the local mint is found having been dumped in a mine. The only clue is a pristine coin from the reign of King Stephen. Castellan Nicolla de la Haye and her husband Sheriff Gerard Camville have asked templar Bascot de Marins, who has had prior success in uncovering murderers, solve this crime.

I do enjoy this series. Ash creates a very strong sense of time and place. With each book, I learn a bit more history both of England and the Templars. It is that level of detail I appreciate and find fascinating.

Ash's characters are very strong and I appreciate the back-story she provides on them. Marins seemed less conflicted in this book and it also made me wonder whether this is the end of the series, which I would find sad.

Although the story lacked suspense, it was very well plotted. I appreciate when I never quite know where it is going next. There was an excellent, unforeseen twist at the end I particularly enjoyed.

The books may not have the complexity or depth of Susanna Gregory, but for those who enjoy mysteries set in the Middle Ages, this was a better-than-good book in a very good series.

MURDER FOR CHRIST'S MASS (Hist. Mys- Bascot de Marins-England-Middle Ages/1201/02) - G+
Ash, Maureen - 4th in series
Berkeley, 2009, US Papaback, - ISBN: 9780425231579
5.0 out of 5 stars Loving the history June 11 2014
By Petra Ussler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Here you can find it. Reality and fiction are so fine entwined and it is fun to have so a nice history lesson
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