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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Murder at the Leopard by R.M. Vassari & L. O. Lampe - a review

In Sicily, Amodeus and his wife Ysabella open a tavern in Palermo. The Leopard is built to be close to the local tanners, artisans, and craftsman; situated close to both the docks and the city council. Amodeus hopes the shrewd planning will work well for business.

Extra business is anticipated for the opening week, the beginning of Holy week when pilgrims will be traveling from out of town. One, a retired soldier from the Holy wars, has plans to pay a surprise visit to a former acquaintance, Simon, one of the rich traders who lives in the estates in the hills. Business had been very profitable for the cloth trader who, following the death of his wife, made the accumulation of wealth his priority. Now with the civil unrest, war is threatened. Simon recognizes an opportunity and passes on information to the opposition for a price. When two bodies are found, one a drunken patron from the tavern on the city streets, the other in the wine cellar of the Leopard, it looks like they are destined to be a public house of bad repute.

When Simon’s past, and current situation, rears up to meet with the murder of an old friend, and then his own nephew found stabbed in the tavern, followed by the false arrest of Amodeus, it is left to Ysabella and her friends to investigate. Everyone but the authorities are sure the wrong man has been falsely accused. However, not only is there a murder to solve, but the mystery of the four identical gold pieces held by Simon, the old soldier and two others, one who is a  murder victim the other the Archbishop who performs his memorial service. Some forty-year-old business is still to be resolved. What is the link with the current killing spree? As suspect after suspect are systematically eliminated, this historical suspense thriller expertly weaves a tale of revenge, treason, and murder into a very sustainable story.

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