- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 7 hours and 16 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Audible Studios
- Audible.com Release Date: January 8, 2013
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00AWQTEEA
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Murder in Cormyr: A Forgotten Realms Mystery Audiobook – Unabridged
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The main problem with a murder mystery in a magic rich world like the Forgotten Realms is that magic opens up too many possibilities. A temporary clone spell could create the perfect alibi for any criminal. Victims can be resurrected. Culprits can teleport from practically anywhere and to practically anywhere.
Of course, the presence of magic, or technology, does not on its own exclude a murder mystery. Isaac Asimov did it in his one of his Spacer novel "The Robots of Dawn". The Realms Anthologies have some good short stories which could be termed as murder mysteries.
As Agatha Christie's Poirot once commented, a study in crime is a study of characters. An entertaining murder mystery is not marred by technology or magic making the impossible possible, but by interaction of characters.
Chet Williamson appeared to be aware of this formula. However, he fumbled rather badly in his delivery.
The narrator was one Jasper of Ghars, a slop-boy of halfling-human ancestry, apprenticed to retired Cormyrean war-wizard Benelaius after a failed attempt to raid the latter's home.
The scene was Ghars, a hardly noticable village on the Cormyrean side of the border with Sembia, soon to host the annual meeting of Grand Council of Cormyr's Merchants' Guild.
Somewhere in the story was a legendary headless ghost of a brigand leader who was supposed to guard his hidden loot in inhospitable marshlands.
It began with the discovery of the murder of an impersonator of the ghost. Then Grodoveth, King Azoun's envoy-at-large within the kingdom, was found dead.
Chet Williamson painted a colourful picture of a normally idyllic village beset by misfortunes on the eve of trying to make a name for itself hosting a merchants' conference. The characters involved were diverse from money-grubbing barkeepers to lovely daughter of the local tycoon.
Jasper found himself assisting his portly master in the investigation. Theirs was a contrast of methods, Jasper trying to emulate a fictional detective who employed deductive reasoning and logic to solve his crimes, and Benelaius apparently just sitting back and unhurriedly gathering his information mostly through others. Mystery fans should recognise the caricature of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, or rather more aptly, Arthur Hastings and Hercule Poirot.
Unfortunately, though Chet Williamson gave a lot of attention on character interaction, he failed to negate the possibilities played by magic. There were clues around to be sure, but they were not significantly crucial enough, and were open to alternative explanations.
Fortunately for Chet, his endings did tied up these loose ends, though leaving mystery fans not quite satisfied.
It is very unfortunate that the Murder Series came to an end before the writing of Murder in Ravens Bluff and WotC should reconsider their decision now that years have gone by and maybe resurrect the project, but considering the poor work included in these books I can at least understand why they did so back then. In conclusion, it is with great sadness that I only give two stars to these books since almost all the Forgotten Realms novels that have been written have been more than wonderful-what with RA Salvatore, Elaine Cunningham, Ed Greenwood etc. The books could have been fantastic if the right people or the necessary care had been given during the writing of the stories. A shame really! My advice, read them only after you're done reading all the other Forgotten Realms books and you are still in need of more Toril related material; at least you'll get a slight hint/taste of Faerun.