Chiara is a young girl sent to a convent by her brother after the death of her father. Silvano is the son of a Duke, on the run from accusations of a terrible crime. When a friary is plagued by a series of crimes, they and the neighbouring convent are horrified. Accusations are being thrown, secrets are being dragged up out of the past. The two reluctant novices find themselves in the centre of a dangerous mystery. Chiara and Silvano have to help to solve the mystery and fight to protect the friends they have surprised themselves by making. Because there’s a murderer on the loose.
Mary Hoffman’s area of expertise seems to be in creating medieval Italian intrigue, and she does it well. In Falconer’s knot this isn’t court intrigue, but far more complicated, spanning all ranges of class from the nobility to merchants to friars. This complexity is handled well. Although I had suspicions about one crime, for the most part I didn’t know who the murderer would turn out to be, making it more page-turning.
Chiara and Silvano were a nice pair. Because the friars and nuns were separate, their relationship begins slowly, with each noticing the other around and speculating about them. I appreciated this slow start as often with young adult books the relationships begin at breakneck speed. The older characters were interesting role models. Those whose stories begin with no apparent correlation are very cleverly twisted together to reveal interesting relationships between the characters, and one complete story.
The Falconer’s Knot is a cleverly plotted tale with several separate strands twisted together. As a murder mystery it held my attention and entertained me. I don’t think I’ll feel the need to re-read this though. Despite the intricate intrigue, I found that the writing itself feels underdeveloped. Somehow the characters are complex enough for a first glance, but I felt that looking at them further would make no difference; their characterisation was only page deep, as it were. I can’t imagine them as people outside the pages of the book. This isn’t a problem for the first read though, especially as they are very interesting 2D characters, if that makes sense. It’s worth reading for the intelligent plotting and mystery element.