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Medieval Murderers, The - 'House of Shadows'
Trade paperback: 400 pages (Jun. 2007) Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd ISBN: 0743295463

This third book by this group of authors is their best yet.

Bernard Knight writes the preface to the book and its first chapter in which we learn that the Priory at Bermondsey, South of London is haunted!

His character Sir John De Wolfe, an early Coroner, has been requested to go to London from his base in Exeter, by the Regent of Richard the Lionheart, the King who was away permanently in France. So Sir John, with his staff in attendance, go by boat to Bermondsey Priory in South London to investigate the death of a beautiful young bride to be, who was murdered on the night before her wedding. The murdered girl was a ward of the King and the murder was quite a complex one for the Coroner to investigate with many false leads along the way.

In the next chapter, written by Ian Morson, William Falconer, Regent Master of the University of Oxford is forced to stay at the Priory at Bermondsey when his horse became lame whilst on a journey to London. Whilst he is there he gets asked by the Abbott to help in a case of two missing monks one of whom is murdered. There are many unsavoury characters involved and we learn that the Priory is riddled with secret passages.

The next chapter deals with the adventure of Michael Jecks' characters Keeper Sir Baldwin and Bailiff Puttock in sorting out more skulduggery at the Priory.

In the following tale by Philip Gooden, Geoffrey Chaucer is staying at the Priory trying to write his stories when he witnesses events that lead to murder and is asked by the Prior to look into these matters.

In the final chapter, written by Susanna Gregory, a Captain Browne is murdered at the beginning and his widow asks Gregory's character Thomas Chaloner, spy for the Lord Chancellor of England to investigate it for her.

This book is basically short stories by historical mystery authors writing to a specific theme namely that they should take place in a supposedly haunted Priory in Bermondsey south of London. Not all of them work, because writing short stories is an exacting skill which is not suitable for all authors more used longer formats. I enjoyed very much the stories told by Bernard Knight, Susanna Gregory and Ian Morson, the others less so.

Terry Halligan, England
November 2007

last updated 23/11/2007 11:13