Thomas Berrington is an Englishman in the service of the sultan who controls much of Moorish Spain. Known as qassad, the butcher, Berrington is a physician and a warrior, and the sultan trusts him as no other. When the sultan asks him to investigate a series of strange murders in the harem, though, Berrington finds his loyalty put to the test. With the aid of the young eunuch, Jorge, he must contend with the intrigues within the royal palace of Alhambra, or die trying. The first victims are mere servants, but when one of the sultan’s pregnant wives is slain, the stakes soar.
The Red Hill by David Penny is a novel set in Moorish Spain during the period when Europeans are striving to expel their Moorish masters – a battle between Christianity and Islam, and between personal loyalty and loyalty to a higher cause. The more Berrington learns about the murders, the higher the stakes for him personally.
Penny is a master of devious plotting with a cultural twist, while at the same time making the story relevant to modern readers. I received a free copy of this book for review, and wasn’t disappointed. This is a great weekend read – a book that you’ll not want to put down until you’ve reached the stunning conclusion.
The easiest five-star review I’ve given this year.