Cruel as the Grave - Sharon Kay Penman

I'd actually rate this three and a half stars if I could--I enjoyed it more than I did the first book in the series, "The Queen's Man." Part of that might have been because I had just finished Penman's trilogy dealing with Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and was loathe to leave that world. On the other hand, if this isn't rated higher it's because it suffers in comparison to both other historical mysteries and Penman's straight historical fiction. I love her "Sunne in Splendor" and "Here Be Dragons" and this just isn't in the same category. Penman even confessed in an author's note that she wasn't at first very comfortable with pure fiction with created characters and I think it shows in particular in the first two books in this series (I feel different about the third and last book and am rather sorry to see the series end) I do like her protagonist detective, Justin de Quincy "the Queen's Man." But I thought the solution to the first two books far too predictable--again something I thought improved in the next book--and I did enjoy all three.