Below is the full review:
Hays merges a suspenseful serial killer story line with a persuasive recreation of fifth-century Britain in his superior third Arthurian mystery (after 2010’s The Divine Sacrifice). Arthur ap Uther, “the Rigotamos, the High King of all Britannia,” who’s preparing for a politically expedient marriage, dispatches his chief adviser, Malgwyn ap Cuneglas, to escort his bride-to-be, Gwyneira, and her father, Aircol, back to Arthur’s stronghold. On the way, Malgwyn gets caught up in the search for a savage murderer, who sexually abuses young girls before slitting their throats. The investigator has to wonder whether the killings, which reawaken painful memories from his own past, are aimed at destabilizing Arthur’s authority, perpetually under threat from envious rivals. That Arthur remains in love with Malgwyn’s admirable cousin, Guinevere, only exacerbates tension between Malgwyn and the legendary king, who emerges as a plausible flesh-and-blood ruler. Both Arthur fans and historical whodunit devotees will be more than satisfied. (Apr.)
The Beloved Dead also received a starred review in the 2-1-2011 print edition of Library Journal. Below is the full review:
The Beloved Dead: In his third outing (after The Killing Way and The Divine Sacrifice) Malgwyn, Arthur’s one-armed scribe and most trusted adviser, is to escort Arthur’s intended bride to Castellum Arturius, where the royal wedding will take place. On the eve of departure, a young woman is brutally raped and murdered, but Malgwyn has no time for an investigation. On the way, two more women are killed. Upon his return, Malgwyn finds that his cousin Guinevere, who has had a long-standing relationship with Arthur and is not dealing with the impending marriage very well, has sought sanctuary in a monastery and is the prime murder suspect.
VERDICT Hayes has captured the Arthurian legend and made it his own. Many complex plot threads and believable characters make this a series to be savored by historical mystery and Arthurian fiction fans.