Sunday, 17 June 2018

The King's Justice - EM Powell

A murder that defies logic—and a killer still on the loose.

England, 1176. Aelred Barling, esteemed clerk to the justices of King Henry II, is dispatched from the royal court with his young assistant, Hugo Stanton, to investigate a brutal murder in a village outside York.

The case appears straightforward. A suspect is under lock and key in the local prison, and the angry villagers are demanding swift justice. But when more bodies are discovered, certainty turns to doubt—and amid the chaos it becomes clear that nobody is above suspicion.

Facing growing unrest in the village and the fury of the lord of the manor, Stanton and Barling find themselves drawn into a mystery that defies logic, pursuing a killer who evades capture at every turn.

Can they solve the riddle of who is preying upon the villagers? And can they do it without becoming prey themselves?

The King's Justice (Stanton & Barling, #1)The King's Justice by E.M. Powell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love historical murder mystery books, so when I spotted this on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to read it. The opening setting of the book; a trial by ordeal in front of a crowd of baying spectators set the scene perfectly. Unfortunately, for me at least, the sense of time and place didn't quite continue to the same degree through the rest of the book. The bare bones were there, the characters were for the most part well written and complex, but for me, there was something not quite right.

I'm not sure if it was the two main investigating characters that did it. The two viewpoints making it difficult to get to know either character properly, or something else. There was also a very large body count, I did wonder if we would find out the murder by a process of elimination, with all other contenders being eliminated both from suspicious and life.

With the high body count I couldn't help but be reminded of a medieval Midsomer Murders and this wasn't the only place that there was a similarity. The book lacked the depth and sense of place that other books in the genre have. BUT it was an entertaining, fairly light read. I'm not sure if some of my issues with the book was just because I didn't 'know' Stanton and Barling and if with a bit more familiarity, they might not have been more enjoyable. I'd certainly be willing to read the next in the series to find out.

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