Pope Innocent III is attacking the Fools' Guild, and jesters Theophilos and Claudia search for help from their former Guild member-turned-abbot. But the situation soon becomes complicated when a monk is murdered, with a strange message written in his blood. To save the guild, Theopolis is sent to find the murderer. Despite the mysterious circumstances, the sixth installment of Alan Gordon's Fools' Guild mystery series is a charming romp, and Theopolis and his wife, Claudia, are lovable characters whose fun banter and bounding spirit are captured by Reay Kaplan and Fleet Cooper with an enthusiastic joy that is infectious.
In 1204 A.D., the Fools' Guild is in hiding, under attack from the forces of Pope Innocent III.
Theophilos and Claudia, jesters with the Guild, are sent to enlist the help of a former guild member - the minstrel Folquet, now the abbot Folq at a Cistercian monastery - to intercede with the pope on their behalf.
But while they are at the abbey pleading their case, a gruesome murder takes place - a monk is killed in the librarium and a cryptic message written on the wall in his blood.
In the wake of the murder, Folqissues an ultimatum to Theophilos. If he learns the meaning of the message and finds the killer, Folq willhelp the Guild.But if the Jester fails, Folq will have the pope declare the Guild anathema. With the future of the Guild on the line, Theophilos, his wife, and their apprentice go off in search of Folquet's past and the meaning of the message, uncovering a long-ago series of events that were as deadly then as they are proving to be now.
I loved the book Jester Leaps In, which provided a fascinating glimpse of Constantinople during its heyday. IN this book the locale is switched to the troubadour era of Languedoc, another romantic time period. However, JLI managed to strip the romance while still leaving the enchantment, on a much earthier level. This, book on the other hand, strips the romance and appeal of the troubadour era. It focuses on suffering and is not redeemed by an ending where it feels like justice has been done IMHO.
Possibly this is in some part due to the readers. The male reader read the previous book and has a wry, sarcastic tone that is perfect for Feste/Theo. However the female narrator is pretty bad and completely lacks humor. Both of them are really, jarringly bad at reading the voice of the apprentice, a 13 year old girl; they both voice her like she's a mouse; incredibly irritating.