The Service of the Dead

A Kate Clifford Mystery, Book 1
Narrated by: Sarah Nichols
Length: 7 hrs and 59 mins
4 out of 5 stars (21 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Expertly recreating the social and political upheavals of late medieval Europe, acclaimed author Candace Robb introduces a new series starring Kate Clifford, a woman forged on the warring northern marches of 14th-century England.

Political unrest permeates York at the cusp of the 15th century, as warring factions take sides on who should be the rightful king - Richard II or his estranged, powerful cousin in exile, Henry Bolingbroke. Independent-minded 20-year-old Kate Clifford is struggling to dig out from beneath the debt left by her late husband. Determined to find a way to be secure in her own wealth and establish her independence in a male-dominated society, Kate turns one of her properties near the minster into a guesthouse and sets up a business. In a dance of power, she also quietly rents the discreet bedchambers to the wealthy, powerful merchants of York for nights with their mistresses.

But the brutal murder of a mysterious guest and the disappearance of his companion for the evening threatens all that Kate has built. Before others in town hear word of a looming scandal, she must call upon all of her hard-won survival skills to save herself from ruin.

©2016 Candace Robb (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What members say

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Weak and Choppy

The plot is choppy and the narrator is wrong for the book.

This book isn’t an easy listen. The narrator isn’t annoying, but her downfall is an almost complete failure to create distinction between characters. This ambiguity makes a choppy plot feel even rougher, and it is a challenge to keep the people and events straight. The plot is also hindered by numerous historical references without context; as a result, I would only suggest this book to individuals with at least moderate knowledge of 14th century England.

The character development also struggles due to the narrator in part, but additionally, the author has created only one dimensional individuals. I felt as if the plot and characters were on parallel lines but were never interwoven.

This isn’t the strongest performance of the author or narrator.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Depressing & Dark

Way too many rabbit trails and attempting to make a story complicated doesn't mean its going to be a good mystery. It didn't take long to figure out "whodunit" but I spent the rest of the time trying to figure out how the murder victims fit in and why were they so important to the heroine. The best thing about the story were the Wolfhounds!!

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Couldn't wait to get back to it

If you could sum up The Service of the Dead in three words, what would they be?

Kate Clifford is a gentlewoman / businesswoman 15th century York, who finds a dead man in rooms she rents out and must become an amateur sleuth to save her reputation (and her business).

Who was your favorite character and why?

Kate is a wonderful character: smart, no-nonsense, but with a soft side as well.

Have you listened to any of Sarah Nichols’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

The narrator was excellent — sometimes the voice actors can be overly dramatic, but Sarah Nichols was pitch perfect.

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

I loved it from beginning to end.