Crown jewels are missing and murder is afoot at the royal court in medieval coroner Sir John de Wolfe’s 13th adventure.
Sir John de Wolfe has risen to become Coroner of the Verge, charged with investigating crimes in the court of Richard the Lionheart. Because King Richard prefers France to Westminster, De Wolfe, his man-at-arms Gwyn and his clerk Thomas are left at loose ends. Even the murder of an assistant steward fails to relieve the tedium. London’s sheriffs and mayor assert the City’s ancient liberties, and by the time the feudal politics are settled, the trail is cold. So Sir John and his men are assigned to guard a shipment of gold and jewels bound for the king’s new treasury. Despite a brush with fire, they make the delivery safely, but soon after the most valuable chest is stolen, and the canon who kept the keys goes missing. Frustrated by the absence of leads on the canon or the assistant steward, Sir John complains about his shrewish wife Matilda; flirts with the suspiciously attractive Lady Hawise; and pines for both his old mistress Nesta and his current mistress Hilda. The investigation meanwhile grinds to a halt until the Justiciar threatens to hang Sir John if he doesn’t produce results. Luckily the clever priest Thomas spots a clue that saves the day.
Very similar to The Manor of Death (2009; reviewed in this issue). Fans of Crowner John won’t be disappointed, but this tale is unlikely to win the series any new loyalists.