Royal Whodunnits Paperback – 25 Feb 1999
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The fashion for historical detection and for celebrity sleuths and victims is nothing new; what is perhaps new is the assiduity with which editors like Mike Ashley leave no possible avenue unexplored ... In this anthology, the deaths of kings are entertainingly dissected--we learn the truth about the demise of William the Conqueror, William Rufus and Princess Caroline of Brunswick. Rulers ranging from Macbeth to Victoria get their hands dirty with the details of crime and other celebrities from Shakespeare to Napoleon get to walk on and take a bow. Perhaps the most interesting stories are those which either look at attitudes to monarchy--Tom Holt's "Accidental Death" is a particular case in point--or those which make proper use of the limited technologies available to their killers and detectives--Tina and Tony Rath's "Who Killed Fair Rosamund?" makes neat use of a minstrel going over the old story in an attempt to work out the story logic for a ballad. And some of the stories, notably Paul Barnett's "Two Dead Men" with its picture of the interlocking psychoses of the courtiers of Mary Queen of Scots, interestingly move into the psychological thriller in which the puzzle is less interesting than the question "Why?" --Roz Kaveney
About the Author
Mike Ashley is the author and editor of over sixty books including the bestselling Mammoths Comic Fantasy, Seriously Comic Fantasy and Fantasy, and the crime-fiction collections The Mammoth Book of Locked Room Mysteries, The Mammoth Book of Roman Whodunnits and The Mammoth Book of Historical Whodunnits.
He lives in Chatham, Kent.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
While there were several stories, some better than others, this anthology therefore failed to satisfy me on several levels. For one, some of the stories simply were not very interesting. Others offended my sense of history (as well as my sense of logic, whatever I posses). Still others struck me as rather unrealistic solutions. On the whole, I cannot recommend this collection; it was not a waste of my time, but I had expected a rather different style.
I was torn between giving this 4 and 5 stars. Four because none of these stories was a "great", that I will always want to go back to, but almost all of them were very good and interesting. There were none that I thought were truly bad. On this basis, I am going to give Mike Ashley's other anthologies a try.
The stories move over something like a thousand years in time, and I enjoyed the constantly changing times, places and people. They range from almost gruesome to very funny. Not being a historian, I cannot say how accurate they all were, but the ambience was generally very well evoked.
One comment as a matter of taste. Many of the stories are very cynical, which is actually quite appropriate, given the royal subjects. Mysteries usually concern themselves justice, but don't count on it here!
Authors are: M.G. Owen, Peter Tremayne, Mary Reed & Eric Mayer, Tom Holt, Susanna Gregory, Tina & Tony Rath, Liz Holiday, Mary Monica Pulver, Renee Vink, Jean Davidson, Edward Marston, Cherith Baldry, Margaret Frazer, Amy Myers, Claire Griffen, Derek Wilson, Paul Barnett, Robert Franks, Andrew Lane, John T. Aquino, Edward D. Hoch, Martin Edwards, Stephen Baxter, Richard A. Lupoff, Morgan Llywelyn.
Having read this for a reading group, I found no one in the group who felt disappointed in ROYAL WHODUNNITS. Each writer has a voice of his/her own. Each mystery involves a member of the royal family. I was impressed with the knot-tying concept in The Snow of Saint Stephen by M.G. Owen. My favorite was Night's Black Agents by Peter Tremayne - the ending made me gasp. You will find another Mary Reed - Eric Mayer's short story in here also. Their character John the Eunuch, who made his debut in HISTORICAL WHODUNNITS, and now has his own mystery series.
The historical aspects in this anthology are rich and impressive. It's so detailed that reading it in one sitting will be impossible; expect to carry it around and enjoy it for a while. You will get your money's worth with Royal Whodunnits.