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Sintesi dell'editore

Magdalene la Batarde is the madam of the Old Priory Guesthouse in Southwark. She and her women are expected to engage in a number of sinful activities, but bloody murder isn't one of them until Baldassare, the messenger, dies. Though Baldassare isn't a regular client of the Old Priory Guesthouse, Magdalene and her women refuse to allow his death to go unavenged. Of course, their efforts aren't completely altruistic. Chances are if they don't find the killer, they will be assumed guilty, because they are whores, and will be gutted and hanged.

Into this sea of intrigue steps the handsome Sir Bellamy of Itchen. The bishop of Winchester, who was served for many years by Baldassare, has put Bellamy, his most trusted knight, in charge of the murder investigation and ordered him to prove Magdalene is the killer. Bellamy is instantly captivated by his chief suspect but also convinced that she is hiding something. Sure that she is involved in the messenger's death right up to her beautiful eyebrows but unable to believe she's a killer, Bellamy must find out how and why Baldassare died, or watch the mysterious Magdalene meet her fate on the gallows.

©1999 Roberta Gellis; (P)2002 Blackstone Audiobooks

"In this top-notch production Nadia May uses different cadences to effectively denote different characters. Her mellifluous voice and accents are perfect for the story. The authentic historical detail, mystery, romance, and well-defined characters work together to create a memorable story." (AudioFile)

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  • Jim
  • 25 08 2005


A beautifully crafted historical mystery, which gives a real sense of the period, while maintaining a tight and intriguing story line. The characters are as well realised as their setting, and their actions and underlying motivations are believeable and natural. The pace of the book is gentle, this is not a swashbuckling romp, but what there is is gripping enough. I am not sure what vague dissatisfaction made me drop the rating from a five to a four, but I can whole heartedly recommend it as a companion for the 10 hours it will take to finish.

9 su 9 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Patricia
  • 16 03 2005

Pleasantly Surprised

This author has done some excellent research to make the time period come to life. I found this to be a good mystery with a second inside mystery as well. This kept you wanting to continue the story and wondering not only about the obvious murder at hand but....what is this inside secret of Magdelene?? Narrator was good.

8 su 8 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Anne in State College
  • 01 06 2005

Brother Cadfael's sister?

I enjoy period mysteries, especially anything set in antiquity and the Middle Ages, so had read all of Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael and most of Lindsay Davis' Marcus Falco. This book is just as good and has the added feature of a female sleuth, Magdelane. The author entertains readers with Magdelane's clever ability to solve the mystery despite the barriers facing women of the era.

6 su 6 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Lehua of Pacifica
  • 19 09 2005

A rare treat

What a discovery. I wish all mysteries were this good, and as much fun. The reader is, as always, perfect; but she's especially appreciated in this story where Magdalene's clarity and courage are central. The characters are fresh, unique, and interesting. It's a whole different way to look at many things, and offered with humor.

5 su 5 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Mysticalsister
  • 12 10 2009

What a Treat!

I love it when I find a new author with a great series! This book is so well written, and perfectly read by Nadia May, that I found myself transported to 12th century England! I'm a big Cadfael fan, and this story takes place during the time Stephen is made King, so the time frame is well chosen. I can't recommend it enough. But -- it's unique! So whatever you think this book is -- it's not! Enjoy!

4 su 4 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Liz
  • 15 10 2005

A real pleasure

This book translates very well to the audio format. The narrator is terrific. The book keep my interest both because of the well crafted mystery and the many details about life in that time.

3 su 3 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Kathy
  • 02 07 2011

Roberta Gellis triumphs again!

I was introduced to Ms. Gellis' works many years ago when the Roselynde Chronicles first came out in paperback. Honestly, I was so enthralled with that series, I didn't think Ms. Gellis could do it again. However, she did. I cannot wait to purchase the second book in this series to find out what happens next! I love the attention to historical detail. However, this book is very short (approximately 350 page), when compared to the nearly 1,000 pages in each of the books in the Roselynde series. That is my only complaint. The narrator does a great job. I highly recommend this series to those readers/listeners who enjoy historical mysteries. Please excuse me while I purchase the second book in this series!

2 su 2 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Madeleine
  • 23 05 2009

Deliciously Medieval

I so enjoyed this book! The premise is very entertaining, the characters interesting and complex, and the mystery is clever. Also, if you like romances, this has a nice gentle romantic thread that develops in later novels.

The historical research is excellent and setting reveals an historically accurate portrayal of the early medieval church as more pragmatic than godly, a general absence of independence for women, and the prevalence of violence in the 12th Century.

The narrator is well suited to the text and pleasant to listen to.

2 su 2 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • K. Allen
  • 20 12 2008

Comical murder mystery with some truths

I found this story hilarious. Having whores living in an abbey rectory house accused of murder playing detective is so funny. Having taken history of religion courses in college, it isn't such a far fetched idea as the church was in a period of corruption. The story even touches upon that too. In all this was a fun murder mystery. I'm going to recommend it to my mother. She almost exclusively reads pulp romance novels. I know she'll like this one too.

5 su 6 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Wadie
  • 05 06 2008

Very Good

This is a great listen. The characters are well developed and the plot is interesting and not twisted. Nadia May does a terrific job with the voices.

2 su 2 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Ama
  • 02 05 2014


Would you consider the audio edition of A Mortal Bane to be better than the print version?

I haven't read the print book, but this was so captivating. Too often if you read historical novels, it only concerns, the nobility but this we see the humble, the merchants, the church men and women who worked in "stews"

What other book might you compare A Mortal Bane to, and why?

This is a smaller scale less seemly Pillars of the earth, the ordinary lives of medieval England, not the Nobility or royalty taking centre stage

What does Nadia May bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

She is very measured with her delivery and she clearly differentiates between the characters which is nice.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I was on tenterhooks for the protagonists until the very end.

2 su 2 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Mrs
  • 23 12 2012

A Really Good Listen

I stumbled across Roberta Gellis by accident and have become hooked. This is an easy listen with strong characters and a good storyline. Really well read by Nadia May. I have all of the available Gellis novels and hope one day that the final one in the series will be available on Audible. It is one of the books that I listen to often - it never fails to please.

2 su 2 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Jennifer Chennell
  • 26 03 2017


really enjoyed this book. Great and quite unusual story. I really liked the character's and will be getting the next in series.

1 su 1 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Gill
  • 28 07 2015

Lovely book

A lovely 'light' read, nice easy plot with twists and turns and an excellent reader. What more could one want on a wet afternoon. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

1 su 1 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Mary Carnegie
  • 29 08 2017

Romantised history mystery

A very cosy view of prostitution in the 12th century but with some historical background. This is the same era as in the superior Cadfael novels, "the Anarchy", with some of the same characters in smaller parts, except for Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester, who has an important supporting rôle. He really did have a brothel in Southwark- which was for a long time the licensed den of iniquity south of the Thames - but I don't know whether it was just as easily accessible from a priory! It's very unlikely that the whores were all so beautiful and hygienic and happy as this lot, though. I'm glad to say there's little prurient detail of their "core activity", and less butchery than I feared, and it's agreeable to listen to. However I wouldn't have read it in print form. The narrator is reasonable but she is inclined to American pronunciation which is out of keeping with her accent, but no more anachronistic than any of the text, since "English" in England was a completely different thing then.