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.
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12th C. England
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.