When newly qualified lawyer Gil Cunningham finds the body of a young woman in Glasgow Cathedral he is asked to investigate. He identifies the corpse as a woman he recognized at the May Day dancing in Glasgow Cross, the runaway wife of the cruel and unpleasant nobleman John Semphill. With Maistre Pierre, a French master mason involved in a new building at the Cathedral, Gil begins his search for the murder weapon in the lanes and yards of the city and to ask some difficult questions. His investigation leads him to Semphill and his household—his mistress and men-at-arms—dealing with the burgh constable, householders and musicians, as well as his feelings for the mason's lively daughter, Alys, whom he has come to find increasingly attractive. The complications of a second murder lead Gil and Pierre to the Isle of Bute. There Gil faces rumors of missing silver, a controversial elopement and the significance of a girl with a toothache, as well as a personal crisis around his family's expectations that he should join the priesthood. When the killer is finally exposed, justice strikes from an unexpected direction. A medieval murder mystery, The Harper's Quine picks up where Brother Cadfael left off.
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Pat McIntosh, like Gil Cunningham, was born and brought up in Lanarkshire and educated at the University of Glasgow. She lived in Glasgow for many years, but now resides on the coast, where she divides her time between writing and anything else which can be done with a cat on her knee.From Publishers Weekly:
Lovers of quality historicals will welcome McIntosh's debut, a convincing whodunit set in 15th-century Glasgow. Lawyer Gilbert Cunningham, a progressive and empathic young man, is letting entropy propel him toward a life in the priesthood. His natural intelligence, curiosity and logic serve him in good stead when he stumbles across the corpse of a young woman on the grounds of a cathedral. The victim proves to be the estranged wife of a nobleman who had left him for a harper. Assisted by the forward and independent daughter of a local mason, Cunningham carefully examines forensic clues as well as the mysteries of the human heart to uncover the twisted soul responsible for a number of deaths. Impressively, the author manages to avoid false or anachronistic notes in depicting Scottish life in 1492. While some historical references will be obscure to an American audience, they don't detract from a clever plot, littered with fair clues to the puzzles. The rough justice that befalls the villain is a little contrived, but there's every reason for the legions of fans of the late Ellis Peters to anticipate the next Cunningham mystery.
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