London, 1196. At the command of Richard the Lionheart, Sir John de Wolfe has left his beloved West Country for the Palace of Westminster, where he has been appointed Coroner of the Verge. But with the king overseas, embroiled in a costly war against King Philip of France, Sir John is dismayed to discover that the English court is a hotbed of greed, corruption and petty in-fighting.
The murder of one of the palace clerks, stabbed in broad daylight and thrown into the River Thames, leads John to suspect that there's a conspiracy underway to overthrow King Richard. And with the visit of the dowager Queen Eleanor fast approaching, the new Coroner must risk his life to prove his suspicions are right, root out the traitors within and prevent a national catastrophe.
©2009 Bernard Knight; (P)2009 WF Howes Ltd
Sir John de Wolfe is easily one of the most believable of characters. He is far from perfect yet not one of the modern anti heroes. A firm sense of who he is an important part of all the Crowner John series. This book does not disappoint. I was especially delighted with the end....or should I say beginning?
If you are looking for a historical novel of this period check out The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion. For a murder mystery perhaps Medicus. I found myself wishing the author would move the plot along. There is a lack of surprises and twists that should make a book like this captivating. The characters are well developed and sympathetic.
I did enjoy this listen I think mostly for the exceptional narration of Paul Matthews.
As always, Crowner John delivers a great story. The change from Exeter to London was refreshing. I particularly enjoyed the details about the working of the Court under Richard Lionheart. Bernard Knight always weave historic details into his narrative, sometimes to the story's detriment.The author has a tendency to unnecessarily repeat details throughout a book.
"12th C. England"
This was interesting in that it shows the job of the coroner in this period of English history as well as giving a vivid description of London and the Court at Westminster; all powerful characters in this story. Sir John's trials and tribulations to bring his inquiry to a (successful) end, given a time constraint, is skillfully woven into this well-researched historical novel.
Bernard Knight has yet to put a foot wrong, that together with an intelligent narrator makes this an enjoyable story to listen to.
"A pleasant listen"
It passed the time pleasantly but my test is whether I will want to listen to it again and I doubt I will. I did like the setting and it was good to hear details about the early courts. I could however have done without the detailed menu for each meal the Crowner took along the way.
The problem for me was with the central character, the Crowner himself. He is a charmless man, not very bright and ineffective as a coroner, something he feels himself if truth be told.
He would get nowhere without his clerk who pops up every now and then with a vital clue that he has discovered for himself or a flash of insight of which the coroner is himself incapable. I would almost have preferred the story to be about him as he was the one with the investigative mind.
It seems this is the thirteenth title in a series and the first in which the Crowner has been moved to Westminster at the King's request. That move may account for the fact that he is out of his depth. There is some doubt about the extent of his remit which is the excuse for some confrontations with the city merchants but by and large he just seems to go his own way.
I could also have done without the complications of his love life. I suppose in a long-running series about one man there has to be some back story but it took up too much space for me as I have not invested in his character coming to the series so late. He is not interesting enough for me as a central character to make me care one way or the other how things go for him.
I rather liked the priest clerk. Paul Matthews also conveyed the women well.
Very slow with little action and virtually no suspence. If you're interested in constant references and descriptions of medievil London you may enjoy.
I just can't get enough of Crowner John. Bernard Knight paired with a briliant narrator keeps you enthralled from start to finish.
He paints such a vivid picture of the period I feel that I've been there alongside him.
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