The Counterfeit Madam
A Gil Cunningham Mystery by Pat McIntosh
Review: In late 15th century Scotland, Gil Cunningham and his wife Alys are drawn into a dispute involving a hereditary claim on property that leads to murder in The Counterfeit Madam, the seventh mystery in this series by Pat McIntosh.
As a legal entity for the regional Archbishop, Gil is asked to negotiate a transfer of properties that will provide a more natural — or at the very least, less controversial — line of succession for John Sempill, a newly married prominent resident. The current heir, 2-year-old John McIan, is Sempill's son out of wedlock and currently in the Cunningham's foster care so Gil is naturally suspicious. He provisionally agrees, pending a personal investigation of the properties involved … one of which is brothel. Meanwhile, false coin has been passed in town, counterfeit silver threepenny pieces. "Pursuing false moneyers would make a change from pursuing murderers," observes his father. Oh, if only he were right.
The Counterfeit Madam requires some investment on the part of the reader, a somewhat risky endeavor since the outcome (read enjoyment) is not all that certain. Following along as a complicated familial organization navigates their way through an equally complicated arrangement of real estate holdings and transactions is one thing. But then there are the historical factors, which do add an air of authenticity to the narrative, but when extended to the dialog — of which there is a considerable amount — often makes for slow, cumbersome reading. There's definitely something appealing about crafting a tale around vices and crimes that might by many to be considered of relatively modern origin (i.e. counterfeiting) and towards that end, the mystery works. Still, the pathway there is rather circuitous. One has to balance what is arguably an entertaining story against the effort expended to realize this.
Acknowledgment: Soho Press provided an ARC of The Counterfeit Madam for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Rough Collier
Soho Constable (Hardcover), May 2008
ISBN-13: 9781569475072; ISBN-10: 1569475075
Location(s) referenced in The Counterfeit Madam: Glasgow, Scotland
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The Counterfeit Madam by Pat McIntosh — A Gil Cunningham Mystery
Publisher: Soho Constable
Publication Date: June 2011
List Price: $25.00