The falconer's knot by Mary Hoffman

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Allen and Unwin. 2008
(Age 11+) An exciting medieval mystery story set in 14th century Italy, Falconer's knot is sure to gain an audience with readers who like whodunits and those who enjoy a historical setting. 16-year-old nobleman, Silvano, infatuated with beautiful Angelica, is forced to flee to a monastery when he is accused of murdering her husband. While there he meets a lovely novice, Chiara, at the adjoining convent. When Chiara's father died, her brother decides to send her away to join a religious order. The peace of monastic life is shattered when another murder occurs. Silvano and Chiaro discover themselves in the midst of a puzzling mystery and fall in love as they strive to solve the crime.

The author gives the reader a real sense of place and time with vivid descriptions of monastic life and the wonderful art that was being created at the time. Descriptions of the way the colours were made for the frescoes and the paintings of the artists Simone Martini and Pietro Lorenzetti are fascinating and provide an extra dimension to the book. Add to this two engaging characters, Silvano and Chiaro, an interesting sub plot with the star crossed lovers, Aureliana and Anselmo, poison, falcons and betrayals and it all adds up to an engrossing read.

Recommended for its fast pace, romance and fabulous setting.
Pat Pledger