Grave Goods by Ariana Franklin
After reading The Serpent's Tale, I was rather pleasantly surprised by its sequel. I feel like Grave Goods avoided some of the missteps of The Serpent's Tale, and had an interesting, if somewhat formulaic, mystery. Yes, Adelia still plays the worried mother, but her daughter is a few years old now, around four or five, and she is no longer quite as frantic about her daughter. For the most part, she has dealt with her relationship with Rowley, or at least her feelings, since they do not see each other.
In this novel, Henry II has been dealing with the rebellious Welsh, who believe that Arthur will come back and lead them. As a result, when a Welsh captive tells him that his uncle had a vision of Arthur being buried in Glastonbury (formerly Avalon . . . and suddenly, I had a strong desire to read The Mists of Avalon again, or Bernard Cornwell's trilogy on the king), he is very interested in finding the body and getting rid of this symbol. A team soon finds two bodies in the graveyard at the directed location, and Henry wants Adelia to do her magic - if she can't prove that the bodies are Arthur and Guinevere, at the least, he wants her to demonstrate that there is no way to prove that they aren't.
Rowley is in the Glastonbury area to investigate the recent fire that destroyed the abbey, naturally leading to some tension (but nearly as bad or annoying as during the last novel). The townsfolk, and the innkeeper, Hilda, in particularly, keeps pointing towards one particular person, and soon Adelia finds herself involved in that investigation as well. Most of the locals are rather peculiar and less than friendly with few exceptions.
I felt like the first hundred pages of the novel were a bit slow . . . it started with the uncle's vision, and then Henry II, but after that, it took a while for Adelia to get in the action. She was traveling with her friend Emma from the previous novel before she finally gets involved with the actualy mystery. Emma, however, ends up disappearing after Adelia is summoned by the king. Eventually, all three investigations end up being solved, sometimes in ways that are connected or at least partially overlapping. Fortunately, it mostly didn't feel like there was too much going on, either, as is sometimes the case with several plot lines.
My favorite character in these novels continues to be Henry II. I've been looking in the history section to see if there are any biographies on him every time I'm in one, but no luck so far. The only result I got on Amazon was one written in the '70s.