Knight, Bernard - 'Crowner Royal'
"Crowner" John de Wolfe has been sent to the Palace of Westminster, where he has been appointed 'Coroner of the Verge', by the monarch, King Richard (the Lionheart). However, with his patron the King abroad, fighting in France, Crowner John is dismayed to find that the post has very limited duties. He seems spends a lot of time with very little to do, which is completely different from his time as Coroner in Exeter. He finds London a very corrupt place where everyone seems to be sitting around gossiping. He really misses his Devon roots and in particular his mistress and other lovers; his wife is estranged and threatening to become a nun.
One day he is enjoying lunch with Glynn, his assistant, when they are shocked to observe from their window a clerk getting stabbed almost directly outside where they are eating. John is beginning an investigation, when he is commissioned to ride to the West Country, with a party of soldiers. He has to escort the return of some chests of gold bullion and jewellery back to London. The gold is to be used to finance King Richard's warfare. Everything appears to go well on the journey apart from a fire in a village where they stop to rest. However, the night after they return and after the chests have been inventoried successfully and placed in a guarded vault, some of it mysteriously disappears. John is asked to find out where it went and who stole it.
After a lot of exciting diversions and some red herrings the story reaches an exciting conclusion. This very interesting story also has some romantic diversions as Crowner John is very frustrated in his new post.
There was talk that this would be the last book by Bernard Knight about the exploits of Crowner, however a new Crowner John book, A PLAGUE OF HERETICS, is due out in 2010.
Bernard Knight is a very talented and accomplished author and I really enjoyed this book and all his contributions to the Medieval Murderers series.
Terry Halligan, England