Magdalene de la Batarde is the caretaker for the Old Priory Guesthouse, which also happens to be one of the few "high class" whorehouses in medieval London. A woman with a checkered past, Magdalene is also smart as a whip. When one of her employees approaches her with the horrifying news that a client has been killed just a few feet from the Guesthouse (also, incidentally, on the doorsteps of a church), Magdalene takes it upon herself to keep her women safe from accusation and tries to find a way to prove their innocence. However, though Magdalene is capable enough, medieval London is not exactly the safest time or place to be a woman practicing the "oldest profession" and a knight named Sir Bellamy is appointed to assist Magdalene in solving the mysterious murder.
Roberta Gellis is best known for her medieval romance novels. A Mortal Bane is the first in a new series and a first excursion into the world of mysteries for this author. Fast moving, full of historical detail, and often hilarious, A Mortal Bane is impossible to put down and will be enjoyed by mystery and medieval afficianados as well as Gellis' other fans.
Reviewed by aw, 7/02. Other reviews by aw.