Celia L. Grace – Saintly Murders (Die Heilerin und die Bruderschaft des Todes)


© St. Martins Press

Blurb:

Medieval physician Kathryn Swinbrooke is brought back to the town of Canterbury, this time to investigate a recent plague of rats. Whether or not their visitation is the result of the town’s moral or spiritual lack is unclear, but when miracles begin to surround the local beatified friar’s corpse Kathryn suspects that something more threatening is afoot. She soon discovers that the friar was in fact murdered, and what began as a search for the town’s ills becomes a desperate search for a killer. (Amazon)

In (Very) Short:

+ a historical crime novel
+ it is a book in a series, it might be better to read the others beforehand to understand the protagonist
+ interesting setting and premise of the story
– characters felt a little flat

My Opinion:

This is quite an old book and I don’t think it is even in print anymore. Or at least I only found it used on Amazon. I came across this audiobook in the library and since I really enjoyed Sam Thomas’ novel, I picked this up.

This is a relatively short novel and again it is a historical crime novel. Katherine Swinbrooke, who is a medieval physician or healer, is confronted with miracles surrounding the death of one of the friars. When she discovers that he was murdered, she begins her investigation which is lined with more deaths and secrets that are better not uncovered. Can Katherine find the true killer and can she evade his deadly grip?

The story was nice, well-paced, and short. I liked the setting and the premise of the novel. Still, I would not have minded if the story was a little longer and a bit more detailed. I felt occasionally rushed. I realized only after I finished listening to the book that this was the fifth book in the Katherine Swinbrooke series and I think that explains my difficulties with the story. The personal life of Katherine was always mentioned in between, but I was unable to really grasp why it was mentioned. Since I was missing the context and the previous stories, I was unable to properly comprehend and relate the information. Therefore, I might have missed some facts that could have been entertaining otherwise.

Though the crime story and the conspiracy that surrounded the murder were interesting and entertaining and made me enjoy the story, the characters felt rather flat. I could not relate to the main protagonist nor to the other characters. It was a little weird that she had so much power and was never once put in her place, while the female protagonist in Sam Thomas’s novel was constantly confronted with the limits due to her sex.

The writing was good, the historical facts were few, which was fine, and the premise of the story was good as well. I think this story could have taken place in many other settings and therefore the lack of historical facts was not noticeable or took attention away from the storyline.

Bottom Line:

All in all, it was good, yet lacked relatable and round characters.

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My Reading Month February

I continued to have a reading slump for pretty much the entire month of February which resulted in me reading one book. Yep, one book. However, I did a lot better on the audiobook front and I listened to eight audiobooks – although one was a children’s story that lasted only an hour. But lets start with my book this month.

Patrick Carman – Strengstens Verboten: Willkommen im Hotel Whippet/ Floors

After I finished a six-year project, I had a feeling that I might not be the fastest reader, but I had no idea it would take this long to finish one book. I chose a children’s adventure story because I wanted something easy and fun. Something that just washed over me and it did. I enjoyed the book. The story centers on Leo who lives in a unique hotel in New York which contains secrets floors, a duck elevator, a room with and 800,000 piece puzzle, rooms that have ponds in them or that have robots and many more great things. Leo discovers a box and is told he has about 2 days to solve the task given to him in those boxes. It was really a nice adventure story which is great for boys and girls alike.

Strengstens Verboten

Since I had a lot more patience to listen to audiobooks, I have managed quite a few. Time is never wasted on a train or walking to your next appointment. Anyhow, the audiobooks where a little heavy on the historical novel front and most of them have been written by German authors, but there are also some written by English authors,

Sarah Lark – Die Insel der tausend Quellen & Die Insel der roten Mangroven

This is book one and two in the family saga set in Jamaica right around the time of the slave revolts. It focuses on Nora who leaves her life in London behind after her fiance dies and makes her way to Jamaica, where she disagrees with her new husband’s attitude towards slavery and the slaves, yet succumbs to societal pressures. However, her curiosity and supposed friendliness can easily be misunderstood when the revolt takes place and she is caught in the middle of it all. In no time she looses everything that she has known and slowly starts to lose herself. The second book focuses on the next generation, yet I do not want to go into much detail since it will spoil the first one.
I liked both books. They were beautifully read which captivated my attention. I would not necessarily take anything for face value and since my cultural studies training kicked in, I had to take the story with a little grain of salt, but when I took my background out of the equation, it was good and entertaining.

Oliver Pötzsch – Die Henkerstochter und der König der Bettler

The third installment in series that focuses on an executioner and his daughter in the middle ages, was as good and exciting as the first two books. This is somewhat more of a crime story than a plain historical novel. The executioner is tricked and captured for the murder of his sister and her husband. His daughter comes to his aid and tries to uncover the truth to save her father from being executed. Therefore, they uncover a web of lies and secrets.
It was a great and entertaining audiobook. I thoroughly enjoyed it and could not stop. Great.

Oliver Pötzsch – Die Burg der Könige

Another book by the same author, but this time it had a different topic. Again this is set in the middle ages. A young woman is not compliant with the world around her, yet when her father dies she is forced to marry the man who killed him. Still taunted by dreams that started to appear when her falcon brought her a ring, she decides to uncover the truth behind those dreams and the purpose of the ring.
This an enjoyable book although I had some difficulties following all the different facts and historical figures. I am not that well versed in the history of the middle ages in Europe especially the part that is today’s Germany and France, so I was a little confused at times. Maybe it would have been easier to read this book or at least make a chart of all the names and historical figures. Towards the end I did remember some, yet I really need to brush up on some history.

Sam Thomas – Die Hebamme und das Rätsel von York/ The Midwife’s Tale

This historical novel was again focusing on crimes and was a little more crime fiction. I really enjoyed to listen to the book. It was again a whole lot of conspiracy to uncover that had not a lot to do with the murder in the first place. While here a midwife investigates, it becomes clear that nearly everybody has some secrets which they want to stay buried. Although to many groups seem to be mixed up in the murder, those intertwined narrative strands are nicely separated towards the end and it all makes sense despite the convoluted mass in the beginning. It was an enjoyable read.

Celia L. Grace – Die Heilerin und die Bruderschaft des Todes/ Saintly Murders

Again another crime story in a historical novel. While here a female healer is supposed to determine whether the dead monk was a saint, she uncovers that said monk was murdered. Trying to figure out what happened and what the other monks keep from her, she gets deeper and deeper into a crime that she might not be able to escape. Again a short and entertaining read. Not as good as the other one set in York, yet still good. I had a few problems relating to the main protagonist and to follow the story, but that might have been because I was in a very different head space when I was listening to this.

Die Zeitdetektive – Der Rote Rächer

This is part of a time travel series that focuses on three young kids who have discovered a secret door in the library that takes them to different places in time. This time they are taken to Rome where the gladiator games are taking place. Since the head game maker is attacked, the children try to uncover who the attacker is.
This series is really cute and short. An episode is about an hour-long. It is an adventure with historical facts thrown in between without being to didactic. Really good.

Sophie Jordan – Firelight: Flammende Träne/ Vanish:  A Firelight Novel

This is the second installment in the Firelight series. This series is about Jacinda who is a draki – a descendant of the dragons that can transform into a human. She is caged up in her pack because she is the first fire draki in a long time. While the leader of the pack wants to keep her for breeding (isn’t that charming), she meets a hunter (who hunts her), she falls for the hunter, and breaks many rules. And of course there is a dragon boy as well.
The first book was quite interesting. This one was a little slower and focused way to much on her inner problems, emotions, and turmoil, which was occasionally annoying. A little more action would have helped the book, but it was more of a bridge between book 1 and book 3 since that looks a lot more action driven than this one. But all in all, it was okay.