My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mysterious, mystical, medieval Glastonbury is the setting for Grave Goods, in which the female doctor and “mistress of the art of death”, Adelia, is ordered by King Henry II to examine the bones unearthed by the fire that destroyed the Abbey. Why? Because Henry wants the skeleton to be that of his illustrious predecessor, the once and future King Arthur. The Welsh keep rising up against Henry, and when it’s proved that Arthur is truly dead, will give up their quest to hold their land for Arthur rather than Henry. Trekking to Glastonbury is no easy task, and it provides the material for numerous subplots that vie for Adelia’s attention. Her personal story develops further also, as she reunites with the father of her young daughter, now the Bishop of Wells. Grave Goods is filled with medieval detail and atmosphere, and there’s plenty of danger to keep the action moving.
There’s been a strong trend lately to merge historical fiction with detective mysteries, and this is one of the stronger offerings in this blended genre. Though the plot is, of course, very important, this is a character driven series with vivid portrayals. Adelia herself is a “modern” woman with a first rate intellect and a good heart, very much her own person. And in this outing, she has a lot of decisions to make. Looking forward to the sequel in this well written and researched series.