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By Paul Doherty, Paul Harding

It is the summer time of 1380 and the corpse of Edwin Chapler, clerk of the place of work of the fairway Wax of the Chancery, has been pulled from the Thames: Chapler has drowned, yet now not earlier than he obtained a vicious blow to the again of the pinnacle. Then Bartholomew Drayton, a usurer and money-lender, is located lifeless in his strongroom, a crossbow firmly embedded in his chest: a true secret as the windowless strongroom was once locked and barred from the interior. So who killed him? and the way? And are the 2 deaths hooked up? Sir John Cranston, the Coroner of the town of London, involves survey the scene. whilst different clerks are murdered, every one with a riddle pinned to his corpse, Cranston enlists the aid of his secretarius, Brother Athelstan – and jointly they have to pit their wits opposed to a perilous adversary bent on homicide and mayhem.

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Chapler overlooked it, extra rationale at the shadowy determine shuffling into the church. ‘Who are you? ’ he referred to as. The cowled determine didn’t solution. as an alternative it stopped prior to the altar of St Christopher, simply in the porch. A coin fell into the field; a tinder used to be struck, a candle healthy and put upon an iron spigot sooner than the statue of the shopper saint of visitors. The determine became. It was once a girl. Her coarse hair fell from lower than the brim of her pointed hat and lay approximately her shoulders in untidy coils. She shuffled nearer. Chapler glimpsed a wizened face, vivid beady eyes, lips tightly pursed, nearly hidden through the furrows of her cheeks. He heaved a sigh of aid. It was once basically previous Harrowtooth. A witch, a sensible lady, who lived in a shabby tenement extra down the bridge. She used to be referred to as that simply because her one sticking out teeth hung down just like the iron tip of a plough. ‘I’d prefer to pray above the water,’ outdated Harrowtooth declared, forcing a grin. ‘A stable position to wish says I. constantly quiet. God’s water underneath, God’s sky above. ’ Her clawed hand seized Chapler’s wrist. ‘And it’s continuously solid to work out a bonny younger guy getting to his orisons. Many a tender guy I’ve visible in my life,’ she gabbled on. ‘I keep in mind one right here, drove me away with curses he did whilst I requested for a coin. ’ She driven her grotesque face nearer. ‘Fell ailing of a fever he did: a negative thirst raged in his throat. but he was once afraid to moisten his lips simply because he couldn't stand the sound or contact of water. ’ Chapler pulled his hand away, dipped into his handbag and passed throughout a penny. ‘God bless you, sir. ’ She held the coin up. ‘God bless you. I are available in and spend a farthing for a candle and appears I go away the richer. Who says God doesn't resolution prayers? ’ The outdated woman’s slim shoulders shook with laughter. She opened the door and grew to become. ‘A note of warning, younger guy. ’ Her voice used to be harsh, strangely robust. ‘The raven is a harbinger of doom! ’ She slammed the door in the back of her. Chapler went again and crouched by means of the pillar. regardless of outdated Harrowtooth’s visual appeal he felt extra serene, as though his brain used to be made up. If he did what used to be correct, if he did what was once right, then he’d be secure and all will be good. He stayed awhile, pondering via what he may do. He dropped to his knees. Now his soul was once calm he may perhaps pray, maybe gentle one other candle sooner than he left? Immersed in his devotions, Chapler didn’t listen the door quietly open. The shadowy determine got here up quickly like a few spider, relocating around the flagstones, no longer a legitimate until eventually the iron-tipped mace cracked the again of Chapler’s cranium and the younger guy, blood pouring via his mouth, collapsed to the ground. The determine stooped and dragged him out directly to the stairs of the church. The murderer paused. there has been not anyone round. Darkness had fallen, the day’s enterprise was once performed. He picked up Chapler, as though his sufferer was once a pal who had inebriated an excessive amount of, and moved quickly alongside the facet of the church to the parapet of the bridge. He couldn’t be visible right here. The buttress of the chapel got here out to protect him from view on both sides.

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