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Blogs by Glen

Kate Sedley
5/31/2009 12:37:26 PM

As you may have noticed my newsletter has had a rather haphazard publication schedule due largely to the fact that I have little to tell about myself. I do have two books coming out in the next six months, so somewhere along the way I will mention that. But my present intention is to change things, and instead of a newsletter have a blog, and rather than focusing on my writing, I want to spend most of my time looking at the works of other authors.
Each month I will talk about a writer whose works I have particularly enjoyed reading. Since my taste runs toward cozies--mysteries with little graphic content and often an amateur sleuth--they will predominate. I will also favor authors who have developed a fairly extensive series because there is nothing more frustrating than reading an excellent mystery only to discover that there are no others by that author, forcing you to wait at least a year until the publishing industry manages to produce another.

May's Author of the Month is Kate Sedley.

Kate Sedley has had 19 books published in the Roger the Chapman series.These are set in the 15th century. Roger is a chapmen, a peddler who travels around the countryside selling various sundries during the middle ages. Roger lives in the city of Bristol, England which is where Kate lives today.

Most people read historical mysteries because they like to learn something while being entertained, and this is certainly the case with Sedley's books. Although I am no expert on the middle ages, they seem to be well researched, and I always come away with the feeling that I have learned a great deal about both the pros and cons of living during that time period. The sense of community being one of the pros; the ever present vermin and lack of central heating being a couple of the cons.

Many writers of historical fiction want to demonstrate their learning by packing the story with so many facts that the plot progresses with the speed of melting jello. Kate Sedley wears her scholarship more lightly. We are given enough to have a good sense of place, but the mystery is never sacrificed to historical detail. Her plots are always well done, and play fair with the reader. I have frequently been surprised on the last few pages when the perpetrator is revealed. Roger is also very good company. Although he originally planned to become a monk, which gives a certain depth to his character, he comes across very convincingly as a man of common sense and steady character. His life also develops through the series as he becomes a widower living with his mother-in-law, then marries a woman who is his equal in brains and strength of character.

Having read five books in this series, which is published by St. Martin's Press, I would highly recommend them to anyone who enjoys a good mystery and doesn't mind learning a little bit about the past along the way.

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