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Red Slayer: Being the Second of the Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan Hardcover – March, 1994


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Like The Nightingale Gallery , Harding's previous foray into 14th-century London, his new mystery lavishes as much attention on details of the city's filth- and disease-filled landscape as on its inhabitants. This time, coroner Sir John Cranston and his assistant, Brother Athelstan, are summoned to the Tower of London. Sleeping in a locked and guarded room did not save the Tower's constable, a martinet named Sir Ralph Whitton, from having his throat slit. Although Sir John, who is almost permanently in his cups, seems even more distracted than usual, he and Athelstan soon learn that Sir Ralph had been warned that he would be murdered and that the cause may lie buried in the constable's adventure-filled soldiering past. The plot thickens with additional deaths, all possibly linked to Sir Ralph's, while Athelstan is faced with an equally grisly problem at his impoverished church, St. Erconwald's, from whose graveyard corpses are being stolen. A patient and methodical questioner of suspects as well as an acute yet sympathetic observer of people, Brother Athelstan proves himself worthy of the intricate puzzles Harding contrives.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA-Sir Ralph Whitton, constable of the Tower of London, is discovered in his double-locked, heavily guarded chamber with his throat slit. This is a case for coroner Sir John Cranston and his faithful clerk, Brother Athelstan. Their field of suspects is as large as the number of Tower inhabitants, for Sir Ralph was not dearly beloved. Unraveling the clues takes the sleuths into many of the city's darker corners and gives readers a vivid picture of 14th-century London. The medieval setting and Brother Athelstan's methodical skill in solving the case make the novel a treat for mystery fans.
Pamela B. Rearden, Centreville Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 283 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co; 1 edition (March 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688125697
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688125691
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,884,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stephen J. Triesch on March 8, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I came to the Athelstan series after being somewhat spoiled via my exposure to the more well-known Medieval clerical sleuth, Brother Cadfael, who had the added advantage of being the subject of a very well done British television series. Despite their commonality as clerical sleuths, Athelstan and Cadfael have significant differences. Cadfael is a Benedictine monk, living in a monastic community, reporting to superiors, and jostling with his fellow monks. Athelstan is a Dominican, a parish priest who lives alone and (in this novel, at least) reports to no ecclesiastical superiors. Athelstan has a frustrated and somewhat sublimated romantic interest in the parishioner Benedicta; Cadfael does not, at least in his current circumstances, have an ongoing romantic interest. Above all, Cadfael lives in a small town in the remote and beautiful countryside near the Welsh border, whereas Athelstan lives in a lower class suburb of London, which even in the 14th century is portrayed as filthy and squalid. Whereas Cadfael rubbed shoulders with artisans, merchants, and the lower gentry, Athelstan's parishioners are people of the lower working class, including dung haulers, rat killers, and even a courtesan. Cadfael's world is filled with people - including the villians - who are well-spoken, and the harshest word you hear will be "bastard." Athelstan's neighbors and associates speak the language of the street, often in shockingly vulgar and modern-sounding terms, e.g., "Bugger off!"

Whereas Cadfael has a rather pleasant world, focused on his herb garden and private, aromatic workshop, Athelstan lives in a world characterized by trenches full of human excrement, swarming rats, flies, decay, and death. Cadfael's world is somewhat romanticized, whereas Athelstan's is quite grim.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By halas on June 8, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
It is a great disappointment, due to several historical errors. The most troubling error, when dr. Doherty states: Shalom is an Islamic greeting. It is a Hebrew one for millennia. Islamic/Muslim greeting is: Salem Alejkum.
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