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The Killing Way: An Arthurian Mystery    by Tony Hays order for
Killing Way
by Tony Hays
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2009 (2009)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Enter the world of Arthur and Guinevere, Merlin and Mordred, Kay and Bedevere - but not for the usual derring-do. Instead Tony Hays brings readers The Killing Way: An Arthurian Mystery. His reluctant investigator is Malgwyn ap Cuneglas, a relatively lowborn cousin of Guinevere.

Once a farmer, Malgwyn was devastated when his young and beloved wife Gwyneth was slaughtered by Saxons. He then fought at Arthur's side - and was highly valued by him as a strategist - until he lost his swordarm in battle. Arthur found him afterwards and saved Malgwyn's life, for which he is anything but grateful.

Now, Malgwyn is a one-armed scribe who has given his daughter Mariam to his brother Cuneglas to raise and drinks himself into oblivion at every opportunity. Arthur demands his help after Malgwyn's young sister-in-law Eleonore is 'gutted like a deer' (with her heart also removed) and all the evidence points to Merlin, the 'old cantankerous fool' who taught Arthur.

Helped by Kay (who loved Eleonore) Malgwyn investigates as Arthur's enemies manipulate public opinion against Merlin - and his protector. Malgwyn soon determines that Merlin is innocent but wonders if it's a crime of the heart or one that involves 'conspiracy and assassination', a plot to prevent Arthur from winning the high kingship.

In a race against time, beset by enemies, and with the added pressure of another murder, Malgwyn arrives at the truth. In the process, he grows closer to his estranged daughter Mariam and to his Pictish sister-in-law Ygerne - and finds a new reason for living, even with only one arm.

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