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Crowner Royal is the twelth novel in the Crowner john series written by Bernard Knight. The books are centred on a coroner of the crown a character called Crowner John De Wolfe, Sir John is a complex slightly mordulant character who through his work has progressed up to the position of Coroner Royal for the court of Richard the First.
This is in truth a standard medieval murder mystery book, the book starts with Sir John being given the position of Crowner Royal which means that any crime which occurs within 12 miles of King Richards court. There is then a murder of a priest and the book starts, the murder is of course unsolveable at first and for a while the novel moves away and has a section on De Wolfe guarding the transfer of bullion from Winchester to London.
There is then of course a theft of some of the bullion and the story slowly unravels to reveal the connection between the murder and the theft but I won't give too much away. The writer very effectively brings together the sights and sounds of the early medieval court, its intrigues and the context of the troubled times. King Richard is away all through the novel and indeed he was only in England for around 9 months of his 10 year kingship, he was taxing the populace pretty harshly and this fact is exploited by the author.
De Wolfe is a complex and hard to like character, we are with him in the novel as the novel is first person angled from his point of view but he's a hard man to like as he's ambitious, ruthless and driven to succeed. However, he is loyal to his friends, his kings and his colleagues.
I enjoyed the novel but it did feel a little like many authors who dip into the world of medieval murder mysteries, the story was clearly well researched and well structured but it could have been set in any period of english history from the conquest to the civil wat period, it would have been nice if more of the concerns of the normal population was addressed.
Saying that its a nice introduction to a turbulent period of English history and thats never a bad thing.