In The Idylls of the Queen, Phyllis Ann Karr takes an incident (the murder of Sir Patrise) from Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur and creates an intelligent, complex, and fascinating mystery novel perfect for fans of historical mysteries, of British legends, and of fantasy.
Queen Guenevere is giving a dinner to honor King Arthur's knights when one guest, Sir Patrise, falls dead of poison. The dead man's cousin accuses the Queen of murder, and she is taken away, to be held until her trial by combat. If her knight-champion wins, Guenevere will be declared innocent and freed; if he loses, she will be burned to death as a murderer. She is unlikely to survive the trial. Most of Britain's mightiest knights were at the dinner, and therefore cannot fight for the Queen. Her champion and secret lover, the invincible Lancelot, has vanished. And, as Sir Kay realizes, trial by combat determines only is who is the better fighter, not who is guilty. Kay knows the Queen is innocent and an unsuspected murderer is loose in feud-filled Camelot--a murderer who intended to kill a person or persons other than the obscure knight Patrise, and who is poised to kill again. With the trial only days away, Kay joins with the great knights Gawaine and Gareth and their half-brother, King Arthur's bastard son Mordred, in two quests: to find the missing Lancelot, and to uncover the true murderer.
The Idylls of the Queen is set in Malory's medieval world, where magic works, but the author plays fair; she doesn't use magic to solve the mystery. Also, The Idylls of the Queen is written in clear, crisp, timeless English, and not in Malory's difficult and archaic dialect. --Cynthia Ward