Wednesday, 29 July 1998

Paul Harding: House of Crows (1995)

Edition: Headline, 1995
Review number: 92

Another of "the sorrowful mysteries of Brother Athelstan" by P.C. Doherty under one of his other names. The main characters remain the same as in the earlier books, Sir John Cranston, coroner of the city of London, and his friend, the friar Athelstan, doing their best to bring justice to the corrupt world of late fourteenth century England, under the boy king Richard II and the ruthless regent John of Gaunt.

In this novel, Gaunt has called Parliament in an attempt to raise more money through taxes - the principal limit to an English king's power throughout the middle ages was his inability to raise direct taxation without the consent of Parliament. The problem Cranston and Athelstan are given to sort out is that someone is killing off the MPs from the Shrewsbury area, who are opponents of Gaunt.

As usual in these books, the excellence of the medieval London background stands out; the squalor is strongly depicted, as well as the spirituality.

No comments: