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Sintesi dell'editore

In 12th century London, Magdalene la Bâtarde is the madam of the Old Priory Guesthouse in Southwark. She is not in the least bit sorry to learn that Bertrild, the unpleasant wife of Master Mainard, is dead. Bertrild was insulting to most people. She made threats, using terrible revelations as a weapon against those who would not bow down to her demanding ways.

However, when it seems that Mainard will be charged with Bertrild's murder, because no one accepts the oath of a whore that he is innocent, Magdalene, with her handsome friend, Sir Bellamy, decides to investigate.

©1999 Roberta Gellis (P)2005 Blackstone Audio Inc.

"In addition to a well-crafted plot, moments of heart-stopping suspense, and a dramatic conclusion, the author provides poignant glimpses into the humanity of her characters, particularly the women of the guesthouse." (Publishers Weekly)
"Yet another authentically detailed medieval mystery featuring a proactive feminist as the detective." (Booklist)

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  • Generale
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Dennis
  • 31/12/2007

A life medieval

The Gellis' books have brought to life the many details of a 12th century life that are often overlooked by the academic accounts. And again, she brings to life the people who make life in King Stephen's reign seem real and believable. This tale, however, is the weakest of the three about Madeleine and her knight Sir Belamy. Although the resolution of the mystery is a stretch, it does not dilute the rich flow of the tapestry formed by the complex relationships that were part of human life then, and even now.

11 persone l'hanno trovata utile

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mysticalsister
  • 12/10/2009

Wonderful Period Who Dunnit!

If you like historical mysteries, this one is a delight. The premise is unique, and the characters are so well written that I find myself thinking about them long after the book is done. (I have a total crush on Bell.) There are 3 of the series available here, but the 4th is out -- "Chains of Folly." Once you finish the last book, do what I did, and write to Audible and ask for the 4th. (Roberta Gellis is writing the 5th, "Bishop to King, Check!" even as I write this. By the way -- Nadia May is brilliant! Her various characters voices linger in my mind even now. Great Book!

8 persone l'hanno trovata utile

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Wadie
  • 05/06/2008

Another Triumph

This is one of the best historical mystery series.
This book has both great characters who are wonderfully brought to life by Nadia May and a plot that really is a mystery. Excellent!

5 persone l'hanno trovata utile

  • Generale
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Bob Nelson
  • 06/06/2011

Better than Ellis Peters

There are only four books in the "Magdal??ne la B??tarde" series of medieval whodunnits. Dammit. This is the fourth and last. Magdal??ne is the mistress of the Old Priory Guesthouse, in Southwark. A brothel. High class, and gentle with the employees... but a brothel all the same. Magdal??ne's relations with all other people are systematically defined by her status: known or unknown, and client or not client. She gets involved in murders. But she has friends, some in high places.
The mysteries are well plotted, but they are primarily backdrops for portraits and landscapes af great talent.
Highly recommended.

2 persone l'hanno trovata utile

  • Generale
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Lulu
  • 06/01/2014

Answers Several Unanswered Questions

To me, the plot of this book was not nearly as engaging as the first book in the series was. The mystery wasn't particularly mysterious and it did not capture and hold my attention. However, I appreciated the background information about Magdalena included in this installment. It made her character far more understandable. I also liked the additional information included about her co-workers.

These are not, edge of your seat nail-biting mysteries to me. Rather the author does a great job (I think) of capturing a time and place, giving the reader a better understanding of each, along with those that inhabit it ... then throws a bit of mystery into the mix.

I will continue with this series, at least through the next book. After that, the change in narrator means I will switch to the e-book.

So, if you enjoy a great deal of historical ambiance, with fascinating, well developed characters, and a little mystery on the side, I recommend this book.

1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • bluestategirl
  • 02/01/2014

Wonderful Series! One of my favorites!

Roberta Gellis has written four wonderful mysteries set in medieval London. They all revolve around a very unique whore house and the woman who runs it.

Magdalene La Batard, the owner of the whore house, is an educated lady. Once married to a jealous and abusive husband, she flees when he is murdered, fearing to be blamed. Alone in a world where women are nothing more than chattel, Magdalene is determined not to be hung for the murder, or at best, to be forced to marry another man. Instead she uses her body, beauty and brains to make her own fortune and to be her own mistress.

But this is not a novel about a whore house. It's about an intelligent and courageous woman who is respected by the men and women in her life. She is involved in the life of a medieval town, and she is also engaged with men of power during that period.

With the help of a wealthy and powerful protector, she establishes her business in a former convent adjacent to a priory, where her women cater to the wealthy men of the city. Her customers pay a high price for the unique and special services her house provides.


I love all 3 of the books as read by Nadia May. Unfortunately, the 4th book, Chains of Folly, is narrated by Susan Duerdan and she really ruins it. It isn't available on Kindle or in paperback yet, but you can find it at the public library.

4 persone l'hanno trovata utile

  • Generale
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    4 out of 5 stars
  • E. Ward
  • 27/03/2022

Good 12th Century Mystery

I like the historical setting of these books and the mysteries. The thing that keeps them from being 5 stars for me is that I get a little tired of the prostitutes thing and sometimes they get confusing with all of the "current events" (history) thrown in. It's hard to remember which characters are associated with which historical figures. I would also like a little more character development.

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Charles A. Burton, PhD
  • 12/01/2022

Another wonderful Roberta Gellis novel

The Magdalen stories never disappoint, and the reader is truly talented at evoking the flavor of the work.

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sassy
  • 08/01/2022

As a modern sex worker, I love this series!

This story is the full package for me. Historical fiction mysteries are my favorite genre, and having a romance element that avoids melodrama and doesn't monopolize the plot is a breath of fresh air. And having a group of diverse professional companions at the heart or the story?! My heart is so happy!

Despite the being set in one of histories most brutal time periods, the tone remains light and even comical at times. There isn't a ton of emotional pull, but that's not a bad thing.

My only complaint with the book is a lack of glossary to explain all the medieval vocab. I don't know if I've ever had to Google so much during a single book before! The attention to historical accuracy is astounding and very interesting, but I had to pause frequently and relisted to keep up.

it is also very frustrating that Audible only includes the first 2 book BUT THEN SKIPS THE 3RD AND HAS DIFFERENT A DIFFERENT NARRATOR FOR THE FOURTH BOOK!

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lilydawn
  • 29/10/2021

Intriguing 12th century Mystery

This is an excellent historical fiction mystery. Women had very limited choices bed(prostitution), wed or the convent. This really isn’t an exaggeration unfortunately—even widowhood didn’t always set a woman free to live her life. Our heroine is a 12th century madam of the Old Priory Guesthouse named Magdalene. (I think the author had a lot of fun with these names) Magdalene is the main suspect of the murder of a wealthy wife—a quite wretched woman with “a vicious tongue”, cruel to her servants and generally not well liked. But the word of a whore will not stand up. So along with her knight (yes, a knight is in love with her!) she sets about to solve this murder and clear her name. She has friends among the medical community (monks) and within society. Magdalene is known as a kind and gentle woman who treats her “employees & clients” well.

Time is marked by vespers and complines which adds authenticity.
There are many wonderful characters who are written with such life you care for them deeply. The settings whether of high or low borne are written so well you feel that you are there with them whether in estates or stables. The dialogue is delightful to read (or listen to) as it is revelatory and moves the story along brilliantly. The Narrator is outstanding! I will definitely be adding her to my follow list.

I look forward to reading this entire series. It’s refreshing to read something so well written. I highly recommend this book.

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  • Generale
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Mary Carnegie
  • 01/09/2017

Too much information

I didn't want to hear so much about sexual activity in brothels. Émile Zola managed to portray all the vices of Second Empire Paris without the detail in "Nana"!
The author's final explanation of her view of this period of history is biased and dumbed down. I wish she hadn't "dissed" David I (and thereby Scotland, my country) in a throwaway line, which amply demonstrates her crude appreciation of history.
The plot is convoluted and contrived. I'm still not sure I know "whodunnit", after listening twice.
Perhaps the hook that induced me to persevere with another book was my curiosity about the "back stories" of main characters- did the ridiculously named madam murder her husband, her lover, or both? Why did the vindictive wife, bumped off early on, to nobody's regret, marry a man she has always despised? (The seeds of that particular mystery were sewn in book one.)

1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Yvonne
  • 16/05/2022

Excellent story and narrator.

I’m always wary about three books on audible but this one is really enjoyable and the narrator was excellent. Great combination and thank you very much to both of you.

  • Generale
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    4 out of 5 stars
  • MACK BLACK
  • 06/04/2022

Prostitutes in the English 1200's.

it was so nice to hear about Prositutes in England in the 1200's who weren't all mistreated.
These ladies were like family who looked after each other.
Most were intelligent and several had disabilities.
So when ladies defend and support each other anything is possible.

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Utente anonimo
  • 15/03/2022

Engaging medieval mystery

I enjoyed the variety of characters and engaging story.
Interesting historical detail. Especially all the food!

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Clare0116
  • 17/11/2021

Another Good Story!

Mediaeval town life was mostly dirty and dangerous but Magdalen and Bel triumph again.

  • Generale
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Sally Ann Lewis
  • 01/09/2021

A compelling read. Confused ending

Initially enjoyable . Like her books and good narration. A little confusing at the end.

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jennifer Chennell
  • 28/03/2017

great book

I really have enjoyed both these books . My only criticism is that there are so many characters that at times it got a little confusing but over all a good story well narrated. Fans of Candace Robb and Peter Elliot should enjoy these.

  • Generale
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Rogayah
  • 24/07/2008

12th Century London

I found this book interesting in that it gave many fine details about life in London in the medieval period under the reign of Stephen, but I found if difficult to get into this story. I was disappointed because I am interested in this period, but I found the characters bland and the story's structure weak. Perhaps because I have not read any of the others in the series I was not following the progress of these characters as familiar friends. I did listen to the end to find out who dunnit, but really did not mind as the characters had not captured my imagination. I know that Madalene La Batard is a whore mistress and that the women of the Old Priory Guesthouse play a vital role in the story but they did not interest me nor I felt add much to story except to show one of the few ways a woman could earn an independent living in this period.

Perhpas I will try another story in this series, but at the moment I feel luke warm about it.

1 persona l'ha trovata utile