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Monday, September 16, 2013

Book Review: The Study of Murder by Susan McDuffie

the study of murder

The Study of Murder by Susan McDuffie
Muirteach MacPhee Mystery Series
ARC, 264 pages
Five Star
October 9, 2013

Genre: Historical Mystery

Source: Received for review from author and as part of HFVBT tour

The Study Of Murder pits Scottish sleuth Muirteach MacPhee against a mysterious adversary in medieval Oxford. Muirteach and his wife Mariota accompany the Lord of the Isles' son, Donald, to Oxford. Shortly after their arrival, a winsome tavern maid disappears. Muirteach attempts to help Undersheriff Grymbaud with the investigation and keep Donald at his studies, while Mariota yearns to attend medical lectures at the schools. When an Oxford master is found bludgeoned to death, Grymbaud asks Muirteach to investigate. The arrest of a servant for the crime stirs up discord between town and university, and Mariota vanishes. Gleaning clues from a cryptic manuscript, a determined Muirteach tracks a wily killer through a twisted labyrinth of deceit.”

I have always been a fan of mysteries, but I haven’t had that great of luck with historical mysteries – I always find them to be way to light and fluffy for my liking. The Study of Murder does an excellent job of providing a great setting of the time, and characters that are interesting, but is rather light on the action.

While this is not the first book to feature Muirteach MacPhee, but the characters are so well introduced into this novel that you don’t really notice that there were other books you have missed. The references made feel like someone alluding to a past life event, rather than something that you need to know to understand what is occurring. Each character had their own personalities and were interesting to get to know.

The one thing that got on my nerves throughout the novel was the lack of exciting action. Muirteach spent 95% of his time walking up one street in town and down another. Even when he arrived at the destination he was seeking, he would spend about two sentences worth of time there before heading back out to walk somewhere again. I became quite frustrating as a reader. The last 40 pages of the book were good and had a lot of walking, but also action. At the conclusion of the novel, I felt like I was wanting more; I’m not sure if this was because it wrapped up too quickly or I was finally getting what I had been waiting for.

Author Susan McDuffie also has written several other books in this series including: The Faerie Hills and A Mass for the Dead. You can visit McDuffie’s website for additional information about the book.

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).

The Study of Murder_Tour Banner_FINAL

You can follow along with the rest of the blog tour by visiting the HFVBT website or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #StudyOfMurderTour.

I also have the pleasure of offering one copy of The Study of Murder as a giveaway to one US entrant.  Simply enter the Rafflecopter below.  Giveaway ends September 29th.  Good luck. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. This book sounds perfect for me

  2. I hope you enjoy it, Rhonda, when you read it. I'm a real fan of Brother Cadfael and other historical mysteries. Thanks so much for your comment and please stay in touch.

    My author Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/SusanMcDuffieAuthor I try to post interesting tidbits there a few times a week--research and writing related--

  3. Good review. I'd love to read the book.

  4. It sounds like the author has done a good job with character development and setting. It is a bit baffling that so much of the book is just walking around. If there is a reason for it, and observations are being made pertaining to the case, I can understand. You want movement in a story, but it is movement of the plot not necessarily the characters.

    Thank you for the review and the giveaway.

    1. Usually the "walking around" was just getting from one place to another - without much happening during the walking.


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