When a papal messenger is murdered on the steps of a church in twelfth-century London, the first to be suspected are the women of the adjacent Old Priory Guesthouse. The Guesthouse, run by Magdalene la Bartarde, is a genteel kind of whorehouse occupied by women who all have disabilities but excel at their trade. Sir Bellamy of Ichen, the prime investigator, develops a chaste relationship with Magdalene as they seek the murderer, who continues to kill. In this top-notch production Nadia May uses different cadences to effectively denote different characters. Her mellifluous voice and accents are perfect for the story. The authentic historical detail, mystery, romance, and well-defined characters work together to create a memorable story.
Well, I guess if I ran a medieval whorehouse, it would indeed be safe to be right next to a priory and protected by a knight of the realm, but her proximity is precisely what leads Magdalene and her women into suspicious circumstances. Lots of wonderful characters and a great historical setting, not to mention the added titillation of "sinful activities". No outright sex in this book however, just a well-drawn murder mystery, with social and political background. First in a series of Magdalene la Batarde mysteries: can't wait to read the next.