The Death of Kings

Written by Rennie Airth

“For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground, and tell sad stories of the death of kings.” (Shakespeare, Richard II)

Murder of Actress Called into Question—Missing Pendant Found—Was the Wrong Man Hanged?

1949. When an anonymous letter and an article planted in a newspaper throw into question the incidents surrounding Portia Blake’s murder—which took place on the Foxley Estate eleven years ago—John Madden feels called upon to investigate whether there is any truth to the allegation that the real assassin went free. As the retired detective tracks down the visitors who were present at the manor house on the weekend of the killing, he begins to suspect that the police did indeed target the wrong man. Far from a sexual attack gone wrong, Miss Blake’s violent death appears more and more as one small piece in a puzzle whose solution leads to an international crime cartel. Will Madden repeat the errors of the past and line up the ‘obvious’ suspects?

As the title of Rennie Airth’s fifth installment in the John Madden Mysteries indicates, The Death of Kings has tragic, even Shakespearean connotations, as the distinction between hunter and hunted, malice and innocence, greatness and baseness is not easily defined. Across the divide of time and war, John Madden discovers that the truth is difficult to establish and not altogether welcome to the seeker when revealed. Could this be a mystery for our ‘post-factual’ world?