Book Review: The Three Kings of Cologne by Kate Sedley (Four Stars)


Book Review: The Three Kings of Cologne (Roger the Chapman #16) by Kate Sedley

(Four Stars)

“Having everything you want’s no good,” she said, “if you’ve got to give your soul in return.”

Excellent medieval mystery, along the lines of the Chronicles of Brother Cadfael. Excellent sense of time and place. Our protagonist is a humble peddler who solves crimes on the side. Leavened with self-depreciating humor.

“Women, I reflected, not for the first time, were the losers in the game of life; the thankless drudges who smoothed the paths of their men.”

Don’t start a series in the middle. Having said that, this sixteenth in the series tells the reader enough to without overloading with backstory. I could be wrong but a healthy man who makes his living walking about with a heavy pack should have less trouble with the relatively short distances Roger walks.

“‘If Your hand is in this, God,’ I said, addressing the sky, having first made certain that there was no one in the immediate vicinity to hear me, ‘You’ll need to give me a bit of help. I don’t think I’m capable of doing this on my own.’ There was no reply. As I have said more than once before, there never was.”

Sedley deals sparingly with Roger’s struggles of conscience and of faith. Just enough to seem real without overburdening moderns who have neither. That he is not restricted to the cloister subjects him to greater temptations without the protection of cowl and supervision. Adela tries to provide the supervision, but she has other children to manage.

‘It was a very long time ago,’ Adela protested …. ‘Twenty years. And from all that you’ve ever told me, there have been other occasions when the guilty person has apparently gone free. But God, my love, moves in His own mysterious way. It’s not our place to question His wisdom. You’ve done all you can. That should be enough.’