Cover image for In the presence of evil / Tania Bayard.
In the presence of evil / Tania Bayard.
First world edition.
Publication Information:
London : Severn House Publishers, [2018]

Physical Description:
231 pages ; 23 cm.
"Paris, 1393. Scribe Christine de Pizan dreads going to the palace to work, where people believe the mad king can be cured with magic. But a certain spell book leaves murdered bodies in its wake. Then Hugues de Precy is murdered and his wife, Alix, is blamed. Can Christine prove Alix's innocence and save her from being burned at the stake?"--Publisher's description.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
BAY Book Adult Mystery / Suspense Fiction

On Order



Introducing scribe sleuth Christine de Pizan in the first of an intriguing new historical mystery series set in 14th Century France

Paris, 1393. Recent widow Christine de Pizan became a scribe to support her family, but when she is called to the palace to work, she dreads going. There, everyone fears the king's attacks of unreason and they believe the charlatans who claim they can cure him with vile potions. But when a mysterious book of magic leaves a trail of real murdered bodies in its wake, Christine has more than black magic to worry about.

Then one of the king's favourites, Hugues de Précy, is found murdered and his wife Alix de Clairy is blamed. Can Christine prove Alix's innocence and save her from being burned at the stake?

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Set in 1393 Paris, Bayard's impressive first novel and series launch introduces Christine de Pizan, a widow who struggles to support her family as a freelance scribe. When Queen Isabeau retains her to copy a book as a wedding gift for a favored lady-in-waiting, Christine heads to the palace, only to have a frightening encounter with a man in a black cloak who's not wearing shoes, despite the bitterly cold weather. She's even more unnerved when she finds the same man stabbed through the heart in the palace itself, and learns that he was in the employ of the Duke of Orléans, King Charles's brother. The motive for the murder seems clear, as a book the dead man was bringing to the duke has vanished. After a second murder claims the life of another person connected to the court, Christine turns detective to exonerate the woman suspected of that crime. Bayard (A Medieval Home Companion: Housekeeping in the Fourteenth Century) excels at describing people and places and puts her knowledge of the period to good use in crafting an engrossing whodunit. Agent: Josh Getzler, HSG Agency. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

DEBUT In 1393 Paris, widowed Christine de Pizan supports her family by working as a scribe at a palace often in uproar owing to the king's madness. Although she doesn't believe in witchcraft, she's uneasy when Alix de Clairy, wife of one of the king's favorite courtiers, offers mandrake, a poisonous root, to the queen, saying it will cure the king's illness. When the king is found poisoned, Alix is arrested and accused of sorcery. It will be difficult for Christine to prove Alix's innocence when evidence relies on the testimony of a less-than-reputable witness, a prostitute named Marion. Joining forces with a monk, Christine searches for a mysterious book of magic that has left a trail of bodies. In a time of superstition, it's a challenge to dig up the truth. Drawing on her knowledge of medieval culture and horticulture, the author of A Medieval Home Companion successfully creates a strong sense of place and time in her debut novel. Her amateur sleuth, based on the real Christine de Pizan (1364-1430), is complicated and compelling. VERDICT This richly detailed and atmospheric historical mystery will draw readers into a fascinating medieval world that devotees of Ellis Peters and Ariana Franklin will savor.-Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.