Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Knight's Tale by MJ Trow
Series: Geoffrey Chaucer's Mystery #1
Published by Severn House on July 1, 2021
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple
April, 1380. About to set off on his annual pilgrimage, Comptroller of the King’s Woollens and court poet Geoffrey Chaucer is forced to abandon his plans following an appeal for help from an old friend. The Duke of Clarence, Chaucer’s former guardian, has been found dead in his bed at his Suffolk castle, his bedroom door locked and bolted from the inside. The man who found him, Sir Richard Glanville, suspects foul play and has asked Chaucer to investigate.
On arrival at Clare Castle, Chaucer finds his childhood home rife with bitter rivalries, ill-advised love affairs and dangerous secrets. As he questions the castle’s inhabitants, it becomes clear that more than one member of the Duke’s household had reason to wish him ill. But who among them is a cold-hearted killer? It’s up to Chaucer, with his sharp wits and eye for detail, to root out the evil within.
Traveling back to the fourteenth century for a murder mystery, which is investigated by the famous author of The Canterbury Tales himself, had all sorts of appeal. I happily picked up this book by a new to me author and settled in to be lost in a medieval mystery full of political intrigue and personal connection for Geoffrey Chaucer.
Chaucer is middle-aged and living in London. He’s preparing to set out on one of his usual pilgrimages when the son of an old friend arrives saying he is needed at Castle Clare. Like most boys of good family, Chaucer was fostered in another home and the man who fostered him was none other than the previous king’s son, the Duke of Clarence, and he was fostered alongside Sir Richard Granville who has sent for him. Richard isn’t satisfied that the duke died naturally even if he died alone in his bed in a locked room.
The Knight’s Tale introduced a whimsical and irreverent side to the poet and I enjoyed this version of Geoffrey Chaucer. I could tell right away that the author would balance his book somewhat away from the historical side and towards his fictional tale. His writing style distracted me and some aspects of the story were far-fetched, but I was much taken with the characters and especially the humor as Chaucer got to know the duke’s current household as he investigated the death and spent time reminiscing of his time there in his youth.
The mystery was a clever one with the locked room aspect, the ‘is it or isn’t it a murder’ part at first, and the varying motives that were present a plenty. The duke had made his enemies both personal and political so there was no absence of people to watch and question and ponder.
All in all, it had a lighter feel than some other historical mysteries I’ve read in the period and promises to carry on into a series. I never did settle well into the author’s writing style which felt too modern at times to me, but that happens now and then for readers and writers so I don’t hold that as a negative. Even so, I did enjoy the humor and his characters, the medieval world, and the mystery, somewhat, so I can definitely recommend it to others.
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