Cover Image: The Cardinal's Court

The Cardinal's Court

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Member Reviews

As a long-time fan of Harrison's Burren mysteries, I welcomed the opportunity to read my first Hugh Mac Egan mystery. It definitely lived up to the high standards I've come to expect from this gifted author!! Hugh is definitely an interesting, appealing, and skilled lead character. I especially enjoyed his interactions with real people like Cardinal Wolsey, Queen Katherine, and Anne Boleyn. The descriptions of life at Hampton Court in the sixteenth century were equally fascinating. Hugh's impressive legal and deductive skills easily kept my attention, and the solution to the mystery - unlike other mysteries I've read recently - was almost a complete surprise. I look forward to reading more of Hugh's adventures!!!  Thanks to Trafalgar Square Publishing  and NetGalley for providing access to this excellent book prior to publication.
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This isn't my first Cora Harrison title, and I enjoyed The Cardinal's Court for the same reason I love her Burren Mysteries.  It can be hard to find strong historical mystery series that don't revolve around the Tudor courts, and as much as I enjoy some of them - C. J. Sansom's Matthew Shardlake series in particular - I appreciate a new setting or viewpoint.  Cardinal's Court includes both.  Like many of Harrison's other historical mysteries, the central figure/investigator is a Brehon - a judge in the old Irish tradition, and the contrast between his country's ancient laws and those of England is a fresh take on the period procedural.  For example, Mac Egan wrings blood money out of a killer by citing the Irish custom of valuing the life of a murder victim based on the price of cows, and manages to up the blackmail by musing on the relative cost of cows in England versus in Ireland.  Mac Egan himself is an engaging narrator and investigator, showing a wry, sometimes irreverent spirit and contrasting occasional doubt in his abilities to bring about the desired outcome with his confidence in his knowledge of the law.  I'd definitely recommend this to fans of Harrison's Burren Mysteries series, but also to fans of other logical, cool-headed detectives like Poirot.
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The Cardinal's Court by Cora Harrison is the first in a new series featuring Hugh Mac Egan, a Brehon lawyer at Hampton Court in 1522. His current assignment is  to draw up a marriage contract between James Butler and Anne Boleyn.  Members of the court have already noticed the attraction between Anne and Harry Percy, but neither Anne nor Harry have any say-so about their marriages which are arranged by their fathers for financial and political reasons.  Of course, James Butler has no options in the choice of a bride either, but he doesn't seem concerned.

(How different might history have been if Anne and Harry had been allowed to marry?  We already know that the marriage between Anne and James Butler never occurred, but Henry VIII has not yet noticed Anne in 1522 and plays only a cameo role in the novel.)

A young man is murdered and Harry Percy implicates James Butler.  Hugh Mac Egan desperately needs to clear James of the accusation or his young charge will be executed.  Cardinal Woolsey and Katherine of Aragon are sympathetic, but Mac Egan has only days to determine the motive and the guilty party. 

The characters are well-drawn and the plot is compelling.  I'm all in for this new series.  

Read in June; review scheduled for July

NetGalley/Trafalgar Square Publishing

Historical Mystery.  July 1, 2017.  Print version:  320 pages.
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1522, at Cardinal Wolsey's Hampton Court, Irish lawyer, Hugh Mac Eganis, is interrupted in his drawing up of a marriage contract between the son of his employer, James Butler and Anne Boleyn by the discovery of a body.
Thoroughly enjoyed this, a well-written story with rounded characters and a good mystery. A very good start to what I hope is a long series.
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Excellent historical fiction, set in Henry VIII's court at Hampton Court. Intrigue and mystery abound, with the expert depictions of Cardinal Wolsey, Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Harry Percy. Looking forward to more in this exceptional series.
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This was a well-written, interesting book that brought Hampton Court in 1522 to life for me. I felt like I could see the setting and the characters. This book mixed actual characters and an actual time and place in history with fictional characters and events to form a suspenseful mystery that kept me turning the pages to find out how it all turned out. A member of the cardinal's staff is found shot dead with an arrow and a ward of the court, James Butler, is implicated by his rival, Harry Percy, for the hand of Anne Boleyn. Hugh Mac Egan, a Breton lawyer has come from Ormond to draw up the marriage contract. He has many years experience solving crimes and goes about the process of gathering information to determine the real killer. I enjoyed this book very much and was pleased to discover that it is the first in a series featuring Hugh Mac Egan. I look forward to continuing the series as books are written, as well as reading other books by this author.
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Thank you to the publisher (Trafalgar Square Publishing imprint, The History Press) via Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book will be released July 1, 2017.

The Cardinal’s Court brings together two of my favourite things; Tudor England and a good old fashioned murder mystery. Set in 1522 at Hampton Court, home of the infamous Cardinal Wolsey, the story focuses on the murder of the Instructor of the Guards at Hampton during a visit from King Henry VIII. Hugh Mac Egan, an Irish lawyer visiting the palace to arrange the marriage contract of Anne Boleyn and James Butler, launches an investigation after young James is identified as the chief suspect. Hugh has worked for the Butler family for years and will stop at nothing to prove James’ innocence.

I enjoyed the overall feel of this novel. Having studied the Tudor period, I was well versed in the characters and the setting. I will caution if readers do not have a background in this time period, the large number of characters may be confusing at times. That being said, Cora Harrison expertly brought individuals like Anne Boleyn and Cardinal Wolsey back to life. It is clear she spent a great amount of time researching! She easily blended real-life individuals with interesting and complex fictional characters. The novel’s protagonist, Hugh Mac Egan, was particularly enjoyable. He was intelligent, poised and approached the challenge of solving a murder in a foreign nation with confidence.

I enjoyed Harrison’s descriptive narrative style overall. I felt as though I’d been carried back in time to the halls of Hampton Court with her vivid descriptions. I did however, find the plot lagged at times. I found my attention wandering in the middle of the novel, anxious for a resolution. I will say that once the murderer was revealed, I was thoroughly satiated.

It appears as though this is the first in a series to feature Hugh Mac Egan and I hope that is the case. I look forward to seeing what Harrison writes next. If you are a fan of historical fiction or looking for a good mystery to dive into, I suggest you check out The Cardinal’s Court! 4/5 stars
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I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley and Trafalgar Square Publishing, The History Press. Thank you.

I'm hoping I just read the first novel in a new series by Cora Harrison, one of my favorite authors of historical mystery novels. I've read many of the books by this author which feature Mara, Brehon of Burren, but they are all set in Ireland. This Hugh Mac Egan book takes place in England, specifically at Hampton Court in 1522. The wonderful character development, intriguing plot and insights into the Irish legal system which I find so fascinating in the books featuring Mara are all present in this novel featuring this new (at least to me) character. Law in Ireland was based on very different concepts and it was very interesting to watch Hugh balance what he was accustomed to at home with what he had to deal with in England. As if that wasn't enough he found himself mired in the politics of arranged marriages promoted between couples for monetary, hereditary and crown loyalty only. Love, or even liking, need not be involved. In fact, Hugh is at Cardinal Wolsey's Hampton Court to prepare the marriage papers between James Butler (son of the man Hugh is employed by) and Mistress Anne Boleyn, a marriage not favored by the bride-to-be. James is at Hampton Court because he is considered a ward of Cardinal Wolsey. Anne is there because she is part of the household of Queen Katherine, making a visit to Hampton Court. When the instructor of the wards is found dead behind a tapestry in the great hall with an arrow marked as belonging to James Butler in the wound the Cardinal can give Hugh only five days to find the real murderer. It will take all of Hugh's efforts to avoid the serjeant-at-arms for the cardinal and the his counterpoint representing the king to keep James away from a charge of murder. His trial with a verdict of guilty would smooth the way for so many political problems. English law judges a defendant guilty unless proven innocent.

This novel, indeed all of Cora Harrison's medieval and Celtic legal thrillers, will give readers a thorough understanding of what political intrigues were going on behind the scenes in the court of King Henry VIII even though he does not make an appearance in this novel. If you have not read any biographies of Anne Boleyn, you may be surprised at how she is portrayed in this novel. This book will likely whet your appetite to explore more of the system of law set in place in Ireland at this time and the Mara, Brehon of Burren, novels are at your fingertips to satisfy that curiosity. I'm just hoping there will be more Hugh Mac Egan novels situated in England to provide a striking contrast between the Irish and English systems of punishment for crimes.
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4 stars

Hugh Mac Eagan is a lawyer sent over from Ireland to write up the contract betrothing James Butler, the son of the Earl of Ormond to Anne Boelyn, the daughter of Thomas Boelyn. Whilst at Hampton Court, the palatial home of Cardinal Wolsey a murder occurs. It seems that Edmond Pace was shot with an arrow the kind of which only James Butler uses. 

Testifying against him are Harry Percy and Anne Boelyn who has grown more than a little fond of Percy. Hugh is immediately suspicious. He thinks about collecting up James and fleeing the area but it is too late for that. 

As he investigates the crime, he interviews witnesses and knows that some are lying, including Percy and Anne. Digging further and further into the case, he discovers some discrepancies. 

This is a very well written and plotted novel and enjoyable to read. The suspense starts out with a bang and continues. This is my first Cora Harrison book, but it won’t be my last. I went to Amazon immediately and checked out her other books. 

I want to thank Netgalley and Trafalgar Square Publishing/The History Press for forwarding to me a copy of this book to read.
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