A Murder of Crows

Written by P. F. Chisholm
Review by Trudi E. Jacobson

I am delighted to see the return of Sir Robert Carey and Sergeant Dodd after so many years! This is the fifth in the series that is normally set in the borderlands between Scotland and England, and in which the reivers (raiders) play such a large role. However, this installment, set in 1592, takes place in London, which makes for something of a change. Sir Robert Carey, Deputy Warden while he is in Carlisle, is seen in this story more through the prism of being the son of a highly-placed father and a redoubtable mother. Sergeant Dodd is having some trouble adjusting to life amongst a higher society than he is used to, and he doesn’t have a lot good to say about the clothing he is being forced to wear. He does manage to bring something of the rough-and-tumble life in the north to his experiences in London, though to be truthful, it isn’t all his fault. The plot hinges around two elements: Dodd’s arrest and beating at the behest of the Queen’s vice chamberlain, Thomas Heneage, and some land deals in Cornwall that seem to have been connected to the deaths of two men. One of these men has been found in Sir Robert’s father’s jurisdiction, and his father wants the matter cleared up. This is enough to get Sir Robert and Dodd involved.

The author (Patricia Finney), a master of the time period, paints a vivid picture of life in London, especially in the seamier undersides. Will Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe are present, as is the “King of London.” This book stands alone well, but I’d highly recommend starting from the first (A Famine of Horses) for the richest experience of these characters.