Mark Sanderson

Harper Collins Pbk 12.99

Released: January 7th 2010

Reviewer: Michael Jecks


Michael Jecks is the author of the Templar Series of medieval thrillers. Chairman of the Crime Writers' Association 2004, and founder of Medieval Murderers, his latest book, The Bishop Must Die is available now from all good bookshops.


This story begins with an excellent idea - the protagonist speaking first person to his diary, explaining that he had that morning witnessed his own funeral. A nice hook to grab the attention.  

The book is set late in the year 1936, and it encompasses all the seedier aspects of London. Dingy alleys; darkness; corruption; male prostitution; drinking; drugs  and the police. Unsurprisingly (the writer is a journalist in real life) journalists come out pretty well. Most may have irritating affectations, some may appear to be unpleasant, but none demonstrate the nastier tendencies of their modern-day counterparts. However actresses, police and just about all others seem to be pretty dim, self-serving and basically unpleasant. It is not a pleasant book from that point of view. 

It begins with the hero, John Steadman, a working class lad who's worked his way up to a post as reporter for a London paper, receiving a tip off about a policeman who'd died. Intrigued, he tried to find out all he can, but is stalled by the police themselves, even by his best friend, who is an officer in the police station where the man's supposed to have died. Steadman is convinced he has a possible scoop, though, and pursues the story no matter where it takes him. And it proves to be very dangerous for all concerned






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