Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Moneylender of Toulouse-Alan Gordon

The Moneylender of Toulouse
Alan Gordon
St. Martin’s, May 2008, $24.95
ISBN 9780312371098

In 1204 The Fools’ Guild knows that some of the Church’s more fanatical leaders want the Pope to disband them under the threat of declaring its members heretic. Especially vocal is the Bishop of Toulouse Bishop Raimon de Rabastens. The Guild whose mission is to prevent war send one of their top agents jester Theophilos and his family to blackmail the Bishop into retiring so that they can replace this adversary with a friendlier person.

Upon arrival in Toulouse Theophilos has no plan except to find a transgression he can use to force Raimon de Rabastens to resign. However, a scheme surfaces when the murdered corpse of moneylender Milon Borsella is found in a tanner’s pit; the victim and the Bishop engaged in a loud public argument just yesterday. Theophilos plots how to use the homicide when another murder occurs and Jordan the fool is arrested for the crime. Theophilos and his wife Claudia believe both murders lead back to the Bishop, but to prove it remains difficult.

The latest Fools’ Guild medieval mystery (see THE LARK’S LAMENT) is a terrific whodunit that uses a vivid look at early thirteenth century France to enhance the plot. The story line is fast-paced as the husband and wife team switch gear from their devious plot to force the Biship into resigning to proving their local compatriot is innocent. Filled with humor and a great whodunit, only a fool would pass on Alan Gordon’s excellent historical investigative tale.

Harriet Klausner

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