Murder and political intrigue are the key elements in this mystery novel set in
exotic and politically tense 13th century Sicily. "Murder at the Leopard" uses
a detailed knowledge of the period and locale with many of the characters taken
straight out of the mosaic of original 13th and 14th century Sicilian contracts.
glittering commercial prize in the wars and politics of the
Mediterranean, Sicily has been variously ruled by Phoenicians,
Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans and the Holy Roman Empire.
Ironically, the island’s current peace and prosperity has come
about only through the oppressive and exploitative 15-year rule of
Charles of Anjou, brother to Louis IX, soon to be St. Louis, King of
France. Despite the spiritual atmosphere of Holy Week festivities in
1281 Palermo, an angry tension simmering among the native populace
rides uneasily just below the surface calm.
most residents go about their daily lives as the political intrigue
plays out in Naples, the site of Charles’ royal court. Charles’
justice system becomes reality, however, when a drunken wealthy
merchant is murdered in Palermo’s streets after leaving The
Leopard, a neighborhood tavern. The owner, Amodeus de Rogerio, takes
the murder personally. Unfortunately, he’s also the prime suspect
and is incarcerated within hours of the murder. His saucy wife,
Ysabella, is left with their newly opened business, their 8 year old
scamp of a son, and only a limited time to find the real culprit.
With streets teeming with paupers and pilgrims, friars and farmers,
aristocrats and almoners, all in town for the holidays, Ysabella
finds many suspects, both strangers and friends.
second murder soon follows, and the reputation of The Leopard is on
the line. Regular customers are fearful of being the next victim,
and the multitude of visitors in town for Holy Week don’t want to
drink in a murderer’s den either. In her quest to restore The
Leopard’s good name and save her husband, Ysabella and her family
uncover illicit love affairs, long-kept secrets, and rebel spies.
will she find the killer before the hangman’s noose finds her
at the Leopard is the first book of a trilogy of murder mysteries set
in 13th century Sicily written by RM Vassari and Lucia Olivia Lampe.
The "Vespers Series" is set between 1281 and 1283, a period
of violence and tension that saw the overthrow of French Angevin rule
by an island-wide uprising known now as the Sicilian Vespers.
tales are richly woven using a detailed knowledge of the period and
locale, with many of the characters taken from real life.