TITLE: The Embroidered Corpse
AUTHOR: Brian Kavanagh
PUBLISHER: BeWrite Books (2006)
In the second Belinda Lawrence mystery our heroine and her friend Hazel visit Kidbrooke House, a Tudor mansion full of glorious antiques and a mysterious piece of tapestry. Soon after their visit the House’s owner is killed in a grizzly manner and when Hazel buys some furniture from the estate sale she discovers the tapestry in a drawer. She gives the tapestry to Belinda who in her quest to find out more about its origins becomes embroiled in a thousand-year-old conspiracy and a modern-day religious cult.
The characters in this series are developing nicely. Belinda seems much more assertive than she was in her first outing (Capable of Murder) and is more of an instigator of events in the story than in the first book where she seemed to react only to the things that happened around her. I also found her boyfriend Mark more agreeable this time around and my only quibble with the characters is that I’d like to see more of the bloke-mad, gin-drinking Hazel Whitby as she adds a nice humorous element to the stories.
The plot is complex although not difficult to follow although I did struggle in a couple of spots because so much of the story relates to the intricate details of the piece of tapestry which we readers never see. There is a partial picture on the front cover of the edition of the book I read but it doesn’t contain the all-important borders and I couldn’t always visualise what the characters were talking about.
I’m not terribly familiar with this period of history but my inner conspiracy theorist was thoroughly engaged by the well-researched details and intriguing speculations about the Bayeux Tapestry, the historical events it portrays and the royal lineage of England. The resolution to the story was very much in keeping with the events that preceded it (not always a given in crime fiction these days) although far more gruesome than the average ‘cosy’ reader might like.
All in all this is a thoroughly entertaining read and especially recommended to those who enjoy stories with a historical twist.
My rating 3.5/5