Belinda Lawrence had emigrated from Australia years ago and had settled in nicely in England with a nice job in the city that she enjoyed, along with friends and a moderately comfortable lifestyle. She had one relative in Bath, a great aunt who had been murdered a year before for the sake of the remnants of a historic garden that had been planned and planted by the famous Capability Brown. It was one of the few smaller gardens that he had been involved with. Thus Belinda moved to Bath and turned what turned out to be her inheritance into her livelihood, a tourist stop at her house and garden.
To furnish her house Brenda goes into partnership with a local antique dealer, Hazel Whitby, a somewhat brash woman with a very sharp tongue, whose heart is not completely a cash register or till as Hazel might call it. Hazel describes herself as “mutton dressed as lamb” but one could say the lamb was long past its spring. When around young attractive members of the opposite sex Hazel can’t help but act more like an old goat. She just starts batting her eyelashes and wins more hearts than she loses.
On one excursion to York while looking for stock, the ladies visited a large Tudor house filled with items up for auction. A piece of framed tapestry portraying a mediaeval king seated on his throne caught Belinda’s eye. Below the king is the corpse of a monk being buried. The edge of the tapestry has a pattern of skull and bones.
The owner of the house told her that it represented William the Conqueror and it was in the style of the Bayeux Tapestry that was a chronicle of the times of the Battle of Hastings and the historic events that began in 1066. The man noticed that the glass covering the tapestry was broken so he took from the wall and put it in a drawer in a nearby piece of furniture.
A few days later Belinda reads that this man has been murdered. A game is afoot when Hazel presents Belinda with the tapestry because she found it in the drawer of one of the pieces she bought at auction. Belinda decides to try to find out all she can about the piece of tapestry because she has a hunch that it is in fact a remnant of the original great work, the Bayeux Tapestry itself. As is the case is situations like this she begins to stir up a can of worms.
In order to find out if she is on the right path Belinda traces the history of the Bayeux Tapestry and part of the charm of this mystery is the historical back-story of the times of the Conqueror. For an excellent history of this man Georgette Heyer’s THE CONQUEROR is recommended. Heyer would have preferred writing historical texts all the time, if they would have sold. She was an excellent historian and meticulous in her research.
Naturally in every murder mystery there is a worm that turns and Kavanagh is adept at dispensing clues with out giving away secrets. It is no secret that Belinda is in danger and she must take care not to become a corpse herself.
This is the second of the series coming after CAPABLE OF MURDER. There are two more. One is BLOODY HAM and I thought I saw a release date in the next few months for the fourth.