With Western Europe in turmoil because of two warring popes, Hildegard of Meaux is sent to the royal abbey of Beaulieu with a dual mission; collect and escort a young Cornish heiress north to meet her future husband… and find out where the monks of Beaulieu stand on the question of papal legitimacy. The first part of the mission is supposed to be simple, the cover story, but no sooner does Hildegard arrive than the heiress and the casket of gold which is her dowry is snatched right in front of her eyes. Now she’s on a rescue mission to find her charge.
This felt historically very grounded; I quite like that Hildegard as a nun wasn’t particularly pious, having chosen to take orders after being widowed rather than being forced into a second marriage to a man not of her choice. However, the murder referenced in the title was hardly the main focus of the plot, being a person we never met while alive and barely ever knew more about them than their name. Their murderer too was a nameless man-at-arms already dead (of plague) by the time the story wrapped up. Abduction at Beaulieu Abbey would probably have been a more fitting title.
There were some intriguing twists and turns but I found the ending quite disappointing; there was definitely an air of ‘and everything ended happily ever after for all the nice people and the others got their just desserts’! It felt very rushed, and being the first book I’ve read by this author, I’m not sure if this is just the way they wrap up their books or if this is an anomaly. This is the 11th book in this series and I think you could pick up here fine; there are really only three characters to meet who have apparently carried on from previous books. A decent story, but the fact that it wasn’t actually really about the murder at all and the ending was so far off the mark, means I’m giving it three stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.