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The King's Justice (A Stanton and Barling Mystery Book 1) Kindle Edition
A murder that defies logic—and a killer 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?
“Cleverly plotted, the action is fast paced and full of twists and turns, surprises, and suspense.” —Historical Novel Society
About the Author
E.M. Powell’s historical thriller Fifth Knight novels have been #1 Amazon and Bild bestsellers. The King’s Justice is the first novel in her new Stanton and Barling medieval murder mystery series. She is a contributing editor to International Thriller Writers’ The Big Thrill magazine, blogs for English Historical Fiction Authors and is the social media manager for the Historical Novel Society.
Born and raised in the Republic of Ireland into the family of Michael Collins (the legendary revolutionary and founder of the Irish Free State), she now lives in North-West England with her husband, daughter and a Facebook-friendly dog. Find out more by visiting www.empowell.com.
- ASIN : B075CMDH17
- Publisher : Thomas & Mercer (June 1, 2018)
- Publication date : June 1, 2018
- Language : English
- File size : 4417 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 287 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 1542046017
- Best Sellers Rank: #46,476 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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First, the setting-I have to say, the story, which takes place in 1176 England during the reign of Henry II, is very well researched. I read several books in this genre and this story ranks near the top for that reason. I haven't read the other books this author has written but now that I have read this one, I will definitely read her Fifth Knight series. The details about 12th C. law and judiciary system are accurate and reflects the author's knowledge of law, and how religion impacted the lives of virtually everyone.
Second- the characters in a series have to be able to draw the reader in and compel the reader to want to know more about them. This story takes place during the times when innocence or guilt was determined by
whether or not someone sinks or floats ( the ones that drown are the innocent ones), so this is the mindset of the judiciary system in the setting for this tale. One character is quite rigid in his interpretation of the law, a straight stick, a little dry, but honest, sensible, and fair. The other character is a young man who prefers drinking and the ladies, but turns out to have very sharp observational skills and a great memory. These two are thrown together to solve a series of murders. Reviewers have said they didn't take to Barling ( the dry one) but I found his character to be very complex with hidden notes of a mysterious past which haunts him, and a background that formed his honesty and fairness. The young man Stanton is very likeable, has a sense of humor, and at first has a young person's disdain of an older wiser person. Eventually however, he forms a great respect for his new mentor, though the wise cracks continue. The two make an unlikely but very likeable pair of 12th Century detectives.
Third- the story kept me interested, offered up plenty of clues and possibilities woven into a tale with rich details of the times. The ending was a complete surprise. I hate it when authors hold back meaningful information that helps readers guess the murderer, and then spring it on them at the last second, but this author didn't hold back, she was simply very clever in presenting the clues. Very very clever. As a reader of mysteries I appreciate that.
Fourth- the narrator- I'm too busy to sit and read while work piles up around me so I only get books with whispersync or audio books. The narrator makes or breaks a story. The narrator, James Langton, has a very natural cadence, can handle a myriad of different voice characters, a voice that is easy on the ears, and very good timing. I hope he narrates the next book in the series.
I'm already invested in the characters, the time during which this story takes place fascinates me, the story is very well written, and the narrator is very good. What else can you ask for in a good story? I can see me losing myself and being distracted enough during the entire quarantine period listening to the narrator tell a great story with these interesting characters, and in this fascinating time and place. I've already downloaded the second in the series, and I hope the author continues writing stories in this series.
Judges appointed by Henry are traveling the country, hearing cases, investigating alleged crimes, and meting out justice. Determinations of guilt could be as brutal as the sentences for guilt; often the innocent suffer as much as the guilty. The court visiting the city of York is quick to investigate, using methods like the water judgment. If you sink, you’re innocent; if you float, you’re guilty. Either likely resulted in drowning.
One of the clerks attached to the court is Aelred Barling, something of a dry stick and something of an avid stickler for the law. One of the court messengers is a young man named Hugo Stanton, who’s more interested in drinking and local prostitutes than he is in fulfilling his job. A case of both men being in the wrong place at the wrong time results in their being sent to Claresham, a small Yorkshire village some distance away. Barling is to investigate the murder of the village blacksmith, believed to have been at the hands of a vagrant hiding in the woods. The village, the blacksmith’s daughter, and the local lord are all demanding swift justice.
It is Stanton who sees that the clues don’t point in the vagrant’s direction, but at some other (unnamed) person or persons. An unlikely pair, Barling and Stanton soon find themselves engulfed in far more murders than that of the blacksmith.
“The King’s Justice” by E.M. Powell is the first of the Stanton and Barlow medieval murder mysteries by E.M. Powell, and it’s so fast-paced that you need to pay close attention to characters, scenes, and plot development. And the suspects abound, until they begin to get killed off, one by one.
The second novel in the series is “The Monastery Murders” (2018). Powell has also written three novels in the Fifth Knight series: “The Fifth Knight” (2012), “The Blood of the Fifth Knight” (2015), and “The Lord of Ireland” (2016). Born and raised in the Republic of Ireland in the family of Michael Collins (founder of the free state), she lives in England. She’s a member of the Historical Novel Society, International Thriller Writers, and Romance Writers of America.
“The King’s Justice” is a well-research and entertaining historical mystery, full of unexpected turns and a detective duo that seem mismatched but gradually come to complement each other.
Top reviews from other countries
However a good read and it is recommended
The two find a village baying for blood vengeance and an enraged Edgar as Barling insists on looking into the matter further. As Lindley escapes and a slew of further murders take place, Barling and Stanton come under severe pressure faced with a host of suspects and increasing danger. What shines in the novel is how, against the odds, Barling and Stanton begin to develop a good solid working relationship together with a growing respect for each other. This is a promising beginning to a great series that is well researched and gives a great sense of the period, although justice is rather warped in that innocence is assumed if the accused dies in the established ordeals of the time. Barling and Starling have personal back stories that are hinted at here that presumably will be revealed as the series continues. I recommend this medieval mystery series as gripping, with great characterisation and a well plotted storyline.
At the back of the book you'll notice a Historical Note, in which the historical details concerning this story are superbly explained, a List of Characters, listing people who are featuring in this exciting medieval novel, as well as an informative Bibliography.
Storytelling is of a top-notch quality, all believable and lifelike characters, whether real great historical or wonderful fictional, come vividly to life within this tale of murder and mayhem, and the atmosphere and political procedures during the reign of King Henry II come splendidly off the pages.
Before I come to the book itself, let me introduce to you our two main protagonists; on the one hand there's, Hugo Stanton, former King's messenger and former real lover of the King's reluctant mistress, the Fair Rosamund Clifford, see and read "The Blood of the Fifth Knight" from this same fine author, and now messenger of King Henry's three itinerant justices, being Ranulf de Glanville, Robert Pikenot and Robert de Vaux, while on the other hand there's, Aelred Barling, senior clerk of these same justices, and a man with a very dark secret himself.
The story starts in June, AD 1176, when the King's Justice is dealing with cases in York, when all of a sudden Sir Reginald Edgar steps up and demands an audience with the justices, and bringing to them the murder of the blacksmith, Geoffrey Smith, in his village of Claresham, Yorkshire.
According to Sir Reginald Edgar, the blacksmith Geoffrey Smith, was murdered by a beggar named, Nicholas Lindley, and Edgar wants to hang him for that crime but without witnesses and evidence, Aelred Barling and Hugo Stanton are sent to Claresham Village, Yorkshire, to investigate this murder case and execute the King's Justice in the name of King Henry II themselves.
What will follow is a magnificent fast-paced and a real page-turner of a medieval mystery, and when more murders are following in rapid succession, Stanton and Barling will by logic, stealth finally come to the truth of the matter, and after quite some twists and turns, followed with an amazingly evolving plot, they will eventually reveal a very surprising and ruthless culprit at the end of this very exciting mystery.
Highly recommended, look very much forward to the next volume for this has been a fascinating read, a read that reminds me somewhat of Matt Bartholomew & Brother Michael by Susanna Gregory in their dealings, and because of all this I like to call this wonderful episode: "A Fantastic Stanton & Barling Start"!
I was sadly wrong. The historical details in this book felt awfully lacking. It was more, here's the plot, and here is a time period to set it in, but I'm not going to go into too much depth.
Don't get me wrong, I don't expect it to become a history lesson rather than a book of mystery. I do though want some world building to take place that gives me more than just a very rudimentary grasp of the era.
The main characters themselves were okay, and that help stop me from taking more stars off this review. However, while I understood why an aspect of Sir Reginald Edgar that was revealed towards the end of the book, as someone in the community (I won't say more because of spoilers) I felt it was done poorly and could've been avoided altogether, as there were plenty of ways a similar thing could be achieved as a story plot line. I wish that authors took more care over these kind of details.
The mystery itself was also okay. Nothing spectacular and I pretty much had it worked out long before it was all revealed. It was - what you'd expect.
So overall this book wasn't what I had hoped. I rattled through it quickly, it was okay, but reading almost identical synopsis on the next books means I'm not going to bother with them.
Of course, someone else might love these books, and that's fine. I think if I wasn't already immersed in the authors I've mentioned works, this book probably would've been far more enjoyable for me.
As it was, it felt like an extremely poor imitation to me.