Medieval Murderers, The - 'The Sword of Shame'
The Medieval Murderers, a group of English historical mystery authors have written their second gripping story following on from the success of their earlier book THE TAINTED RELIC.
This new story follows the problems of the successive owners of a sword which is supposed to be cursed, through the years from the 11th Century when it was first cast, until the present day.
The authors have divided the book into several chapters and each has taken one or more dealing with the fairly gruesome murders. It gives the reader an opportunity to sample the writing style of each author as they introduce the main characters that they each use in their own books.
We hear why the sword of the title was cast and what happened to it before it was used in a first murder. Then an officer in the employ of 'Crowner John', Bernard Knight's Coroner character, is accused of murder with the sword of the title, but 'Crowner' solves it. The sword then gets sold to a travelling knight who sells it in Venice and Ian Morson's character Nick Zuliani buys it and is accused there of election fraud and murder. The sword is then sold back to an another knight travelling back to England and Michael Jecks' characters, Keeper Sir Baldwin and Bailiff Puttock, learn how the sword was used in a martyrdom.
The sword is then sold subsequently and passed onto a new owner who is unfortunately murdered with it and Susanna Gregory's Matthew Bartholomew and Brother Michael happen to be in the vicinity and are obliged to sort the matter out.
The sword then disappears for a several hundreds of years until 1604 when it turns up in Ickleton, Cambridgeshire and it's used in another murder. The sword is sold on once more and then reappears for an auction in 2005, but guess what another person is savagely murdered!!
Essentially this book is a set of historical mystery short stories written with a theme of a problematic sword appearing in each tale. As a device it can work very well but be a bit laboured in parts depending on how interested in each particular author the individual reader can be.
Terry Halligan, England