King Arthur’s Bones is a historical mystery written by The Medieval Murderers, a group of five authors, all members of the Crime Writers’ Association. The book consists of five stories with a prologue and epilogue tracing the mystery of Arthur’s remains.
The legend is that King Arthur is not dead, but sleeping with his knights ready to return to defend his country in a time of great danger. So when monks at Glastonbury Abbey find what are thought to be his bones that causes great consternation. If these are his bones then Arthur really did die. The implications are too much for some and the bones mysteriously disappear from the Abbey.
The stories by Philip Gooden, Susanna Gregory, Bernard Knight, Michael Jecks and Ian Morson follow the bones from their discovery in 1191 at Glastonbury Abbey through to 2004 when archaeologists at Bermondsey Abbey discover a nineteenth century iron coffin containing an incomplete skeleton of what had been a large man who had probably died after a severe head injury.
Each story involves a murder, as the bones are passed down the centuries. They’re all colourful tales. I particularly liked the story (by Philip Gooden) set in the 17th century involving William Shakespeare’s brother Edmund who discovered a long thigh bone and murder in the Tower of London in one of the compartments of the Lion Tower where the king kept lions and tigers.
Now that I was here, against my will, I could not see the beasts, but I could smell and hear them. I was in one of the compartments of the Lion Tower meant for animal use. More of a cave or a cell than a chamber it smelled rank. In the next-door cell was a body, not animal but human and supposedly murdered. (page 260)
These are entertaining tales, full of action and surprises. I liked the way the stories interlink around the central theme and the similarities and differences that contribute towards making this such an inventive story. I could believe that one day Arthur will return.
I’ll be looking out for the four earlier books The Medieval Murderers have published and for books by the individual authors as well.