the embroidered corpse
Two startling murders that replicate the death of a mediaeval English king and the discovery of a mysterious ancient tapestry lead Belinda Lawrence and her associate Hazel Whitby into a vortex of suspense involving a bizarre religious cult, an enigmatic academic, a group of monks devoted to aggression and clues to a thrilling conspiracy nearly a thousand years old. Are the Godwins, self-proclaimed spiritual leaders, really devoted to their religious group? Is Sir Gerald Taylor, revered university don, as benign as he appears? What is the origin of the puzzling tapestry discovered in the old country house? It is the murder of a local villager that ensnares Belinda and Hazel in this web of intrigue and as they follow up each clue they little realise that their own lives are to a greater extent in danger. Although pessimistic, Mark Sallinger, Belinda's lover, is coaxed into aiding the women as they attempt to solve the riddle, a riddle that creates more uncertainty at every turn. And each perilous turn brings the trio closer to an electrifying climax and imminent death. Following on from Capable of Murder, this is the second in the Belinda Lawrence Mystery Series and continues the lively young Australian's adventures in England with the same degree of wicked humour and heart-stopping excitement.
Read A Review:

Belinda Lawrence and Hazel Whitby head off to the Castle Howard Antiques Fair on a shopping trip for Hazel's antiques shop. In the pub it is suggested to the ladies that if they would like to see antiques, they should visit Kidbrooke House. They meet a very charming older gentleman who tells them of the history of the house and while touring the house Belinda sees a piece of tapestry in a cracked frame that catches her attention. She offers to buy it, but the the gent says that nothing it going to be sold from the house until the family dies out.

As they are leaving Kidbrooke House Belinda sees a couple of monks arguing with the old gentleman. The next day she reads an article in the paper about the old gentleman's murder, replicating the death of a medieval king on the tapestry she had seen in the house.

She and Hazel go to the auction at Kidbrooke House and Belinda can't find the tapestry to bid on. Hazel buys some pieces to supply her second shop and they set off home. Belinda is convinced that she has spotted one of the monks at the auction. While unpacking Hazel's purchases at the shop Belinda finds the tapestry in a Jacobean cabinet and Hazel gives it to her as a gift.

Hazel's shop is broken into, Belinda sees the same monk on several more occasions and another murder in the same manner as the first seem to point to something important about the tapestry. The tale is an adventure of historic proportions.

This is the second in the Belinda Lawrence series and it is as finely written as the first. The tidbits of historical information  and legend are a delight to devour while reading a finely tuned mystery. The characters continue to grow and I look forward to seeing more of them.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in English history and an appetite for a good mystery.

Mary Fairchild

This book, second in the series, has Belinda, Hazel and Mark searching for clues to a missing tapestry that may have been the reason for more than one murder. The book begins with a murder of a man with antique furniture. Hazel then purchases some of his furniture at an auction, which is how the tapestry ends up with Belinda. Belinda tries to translate the tapestry and it ends up getting stolen. People connected to Belinda’s tapestry end up getting murdered. Belinda infiltrates a religious group nearby; they are apparently connected to the tapestry as well. There are many twists and turns in the search for the tapestry and the people who want it.

Belinda, Mark and Hazel are better developed in this book than in the first. The author seems to have hit a good groove of understanding with his main characters. This book was a stronger mystery than the first in the series. I rated it a 4.5/5.

Melissa A. Palmer

When Belinda Lawrence comes into possession of a piece of aged tapestry through her attendance at an estate auction with her friend Hazel Whitby, neither woman is aware of the significance of the scrap, or the lengths some will go to get their hands on it.

Through her efforts to determine the provenance of the fabric, Belinda finds its roots may be related to the famed Bayeux Tapestry commemorating the coronation of William the Conqueror. Belinda's fascination soon turns to fear as her safety and security and that of her friends are jeopardized. It appears that a religious sect believing that William was improperly crowned and that King Harold was, and remained, the true king of England may be going so far as to commit murder to try and get their hands on that piece of tapestry.

Does the figure of the corpse embroidered into the fabric Belinda holds depict a long-ago death, or a portent of things to come?
Readers with an interest in British antiquities and heritage will find Brian Kavanagh's The Embroidered Corpse an especially interesting mystery. While the book does have a modern setting, British medieval history plays a great role in the development of the plot. Kavanagh does an excellent job of retelling the history of William the Conquerors rise to rule and the affects of Williams rule on his contemporaries throughout the book as the plot moves forward.

With extensive use of highly descriptive terms, it’s clear that the author spent considerable time and effort in selecting just the right terms to differentiate between subtle shades of meaning. While occasionally the reader notices the word more than the action it’s describing, overall, Kavanagh demonstrates great command of vocabulary.

Brian Kavanagh has created quite a likeable protagonist in Belinda Lawrence; independent, strong willed and smart, she's more than a match for some of the more unsuspecting adversarial characters in the book. The author does an excellent job of hooking the reader in the very beginning of the book, as the story opens with Belinda and her boyfriend Mark shortly after she's received a phone call from an old boyfriend in Australia. Unfortunately, we never hear any more about the old boyfriend, and the characters personal lives remain on the periphery of the story. Greater development of the personal lives of the characters would have provided a nice balance to the historical and mystery threads of the book. Kavanagh has written into existence some memorable characters, and it would be wonderful to see more of them.

With a nice variety of mystery, mayhem and murder, The Embroidered Corpse delivers a well-written tale to mystery readers, antiquities aficionados and history buffs.

REVIEWERS CHOICE Review, Amy Brozio-Andrews,

Belinda Lawrence wanted the piece of tapestry but the owner of Kidbrooke House refused to consider selling it. He was mysteriously murdered that evening. His right eye was gouged out and his thigh was sliced open. Belinda speculated about the two monks that she had seen arguing with the man as she and Hazel were driving away. Hazel, Belinda's best friend and business partner, purchased a Jacobean cabinet at the estate sale. When they started cleaning the cabinet, they found the tapestry. Hazel gave it to Belinda. They were curious about the strange tapestry. It looked like it might be a corner piece of the Bayeux Tapestry,
But trouble followed the tapestry. Belinda began seeing the weird monks following her. When a priest offered to help Belinda learn the origins of the tapestry, he turned up mutilated in the same way as the owner of Kidbrooke House. That convinced Belinda that there was a connection between the murders and the tapestry. It also convinced her that it must be authentic if someone was willing to kill over it. The further Belinda searched, the more involved she became in strange happenings. Then, Hazel disappeared.

The author has worked in the film industry for many years. His editing credits include: The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Odd Angry Shot, The Devil's Playground, Long Weekend, and Sex is a Four-letter Word. He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award and an Australian Film Institute Award for Best Editing for Frog Dreaming.
This is the book that you just cannot put down until you have read every page. The characters are believable and will work their way into your heart. The storyline flows smoothly and logically. The action starts immediately and never lets up. It is 231 pages of suspense! The ending brings everything to a logical conclusion and returns the characters to a point of stasis. If you love history or a good mystery, you must read this book!

Alicia Karen Elkins,

Belinda is back and it’s still murder, but at who’s cost this time.

I’m caught between reviews here.  I started “The Embroidered Corpse” immediately after writing my review of Belinda’s first mystery “Capable of Murder” which is the best way to read any series…no waiting period between tales.  However, I can’t tell you who joins Belinda this time around without giving away clues to “Capable of Murder.”

What I will tell you is some characters do survive book one to “The Embroidered Corpse” and they, together with Belinda, are a delicious mix of uniquely diverse individuals.  And, once more, Mr. Kavanagh murders with surprising twists of victims.

Belinda and company are caught in the history of a mediaeval English King and the tapestry that may or may not solve an ancient mystery.  How Belinda finds herself in these mixes is truly a giggle.  I, sometimes, feel as if I’ve discovered a grown up version of the Enid Blyton series “The Famous Five.”  And, I do hope Mr. Kavanagh takes this as the compliment it’s meant…I searched all of Scotland for her books after foolishly giving them away as a teen. 

What is it that has me matching these two authors?  It is how they incorporate the landscape and buildings around the characters almost as separate characters.  Both add dimension and pacing to the story telling.  They add a flavour to each scene’s mood.

Another aspect of Mr. Kavanagh’s writing is the historical knowledge he peppers throughout the story.  Never does this information dampen the telling, it only enhances the thrill of the solving. 

Currently, I am reading Belinda’s third adventure (“Bloody Ham”) and, once again, I’m lost in Mr. Kavanagh’s world.

Thank you, Mr. Kavanagh.

Christine I Speakman, The Muse Book Reviews, 4 out of 4 roses