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Monday, August 29, 2011

The Ravens of Blackwater by Edward Marston

Genre: Historical Mystery
Setting: England, 1086AD, twenty years after the Norman conquest of England.

Edward Marston is one of my favorite authors.  He writes in a wonderfully readable style.  His characters have wit, and intelligence.  His plots are tangled yet believable.  But what I most enjoy is his dialog.  Marston's characters banter in a witty and fun style that makes you laugh to yourself and read on.  The dialog alone makes his novels worth reading.

Marston is the author of four different mystery series.  His Elizabethan mysteries are centered around a troupe of actors in Elizabethan England.  They feature Nicholas Bracewell who is the stage manager for the troupe.  The Christopher Redmayne series take place in London after the great fire of 1666.  The Inspector Colbeck novels follow the adventures of Colbeck as he investigates crimes committed on Victorian railways.

The Ravens of Blackwater is the second in Marston's Domesday mystery series.  After the Norman conquest of England, William the Conqueror sent out investigators to assess the ownership of all the lands of England.  This information was compiled in the Domesday book so that taxes could be properly assessed.  His main characters, Ralph Delchard and Gervase Bret, are commissioners who are appointed to look into the serious irregularities that come to light during the compilation of the Domesday Book.

In this novel, Delchard and Bret are sent to Essex to investigate the land holdings of a local Norman bully.  Hamo FitzCorbucion steals from his neighbors, and tortures his slaves.  He uses force to take what he wants.  When Delchard and Bret arrive they find that Hano' heir has been murdered.  The local nuns are harboring a secret.  And the local crazy man may hold the solution to the murder in his muddled brain. In order to complete their Domesday investigations, they must find the solution to the murder mystery.

I found this novel to be a real page turner.  Marston forwards the plot with an easy to read style.  And, I am always looking forward to some of that fantastic dialog.

The Ravens of Blackwater

The first novel of the series, The Wolves of Savernake

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