According to the author’s note and the blurb, The Queen’s Man is Ms. Penman’s first foray into the genre of the murder mystery. Her hero/detective is Justin de Quincy, the illegitimate son of a bishop and a servant girl. Justin begins the story by confronting his father with his new-found knowledge of his parentage and then riding off in high dudgeon to make his own way in the world.
Fortune smiles on Justin by way of the misfortune of another man. Justin is an eyewitness to robbery and murder, and he is hired by the queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, to find the murderer of a goldsmith who was bringing Eleanor an important letter when he was waylaid and killed.
And so the hunt begins. Lots of medieval period details and twelfth century history work their way into the story with Justin caught between an aging but still sharp Queen Eleanor and her ambitious and unscrupulous youngest son, John.
Thoroughly enjoyable, and there are sequels also featuring Justin de Quincy, Cruel as the Grave and Dragon’s Lair.
Semicolon review of The Sunne in Splendor, historical fiction by Ms. Penman. Fifteenth century. Richard III and his older brother Edward IV.
Semicolon review of When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman. Twelfth century. King Stephen and Empress Maude.