Stanton & Barling, #3
WHAT’S THE BOOK ABOUT
A fire-ravaged cathedral. An ungodly murder.
Easter, 1177. Canterbury Cathedral, home to the tomb of martyr Saint Thomas Becket, bears the wounds of a terrible fire. Benedict, prior of the great church, leads its rebuilding. But horror interrupts the work. One of the stonemasons is found viciously murdered, the dead man’s face disfigured by a shocking wound.
When King’s clerk Aelred Barling and his assistant, Hugo Stanton, arrive on pilgrimage to the tomb, the prior orders them to investigate the unholy crime.
But the killer soon claims another victim–and another. As turmoil embroils the congregation, the pair of sleuths face urgent pressure to find a connection between the killings.
With panic on the rise, can Barling and Stanton catch the culprit before evil prevails again—and stop it before it comes for them?
THE CANTERBURY MURDERS is the third book in E.M. Powell’s Stanton and Barling medieval murder mystery series. Combining intricate plots, shocking twists and a winning–if unlikely–pair of investigators, this series is perfect for fans of Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael or C. J. Sansom’s Shardlake.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK
I am a fan of historical fiction especially, historical mystery. Finding a good book in this genre is tough. So, I am glad to have read The Canterbury Murders by E. M. Powell for she has written a spellbinding mystery.
The book gripped me from the start. It does not progress at a breakneck speed, but it kept my attention all the same due to Powell’s lucid writing which results in a smoothly flowing tale. My study schedule went for a toss as I raced to finish the novel just as Barling raced to stop the killers from taking any more lives.
There are plenty of suspects here which threw me off the trail. The twists kept on coming at the end resulting in an explosive finale.
Powell has crafted an unlikely pair of investigators in Barling and Stanton. They are as different as chalk and cheese.
Barling is stiff, prudish, honest, and methodical. He writes down the results of his investigations in an orderly manner on a slate just like modern-day detectives use notebooks to jot down their points.
Stanton is Barling’s assistant, has an amiable nature, and likes drinking ale. A lot. But this is offset by his sharp observation skills. Moreover, he is the more approachable of the two. So, he succeeds in gleaning answers from people who would ordinarily not speak out of fear to authority.
Further, Powell presents the viewpoints of several characters which provides a complete view of the case.
The intriguing plot aside, Powell regaled me with the vivid descriptions of the town of Canterbury, the cathedral, the pilgrims thronging the town, and the various inns and alehouses serving them. Finding the killer among this chaos (literally and metaphorically, for Barling is going through a trying time) was difficult.
I cannot say Barling did his job with aplomb. He failed initially, got rebuked by Prior Benedict for his failure. However, Barling persisted in his investigations and thorough study of his notes. He likes to mingle with people of his class and stature which gives the impression that he is haughty. However, by the end, his affection for Stanton (who is more a friend than an assistant, but he does not admit so) leads him to admit his mistakes and give due credence to Stanton’s views.
I am also impressed by Powell’s exhaustive research into the living conditions of people in twelfth century as well as about the history of the cathedral in Canterbury.
Do read the author’s notes at the end. She has tucked in a little surprise there for her readers.
I have not read the previous books in the series, but it did not diminish my reading experience. However, if I had read the previous books, I would have better appreciated the bonding between Barling and Stanton. I would rectify this mistake soon and read the previous books so that I can see this wonderful duo in action once more.
The Canterbury Murders by E. M. Powell is a treasure to read. Highly recommended for lovers of historical fiction.
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Many thanks to Amy @ Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for organizing this blog tour. Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book. This does not affect my opinion on the book. I opted to provide an honest review on my blog.
E.M. Powell’s historical thriller and medieval mystery Fifth Knight and Stanton & Barling novels have been #1 Amazon and Bild bestsellers.
The third Stanton & Barling mystery, THE CANTERBURY MURDERS, will be released in November 2020.
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 lives in northwest England with her husband, daughter and a Facebook-friendly dog. E.M. Powell is represented by Josh Getzler at HG Literary.
Author Link(s): Website