“The Death of Kings” by Rennie Airth


By Rennie Airth

In the year 1938, in Kent, England, a lovely actress by the name of Portia Blake is murdered at the estate of Sr. Jack Jessup—a close friend of the Prince of Wales. An ex-convict is arrested for the crime, immediately convicted, and the case is closed in what most people would call the blink of an eye. It seems that Owen Norris, a traveling farmworker with a history of violent behavior against women, confessed to Blake’s murder. Of course, nothing could be that easy.

It is years later. John Madden, retired and extremely happy about being so, is asked by Chief Inspector Angus Sinclair to look into an anonymous letter he receives that suggests Norris was actually innocent back then. The letter also contains a jade necklace that was supposedly around the victim’s neck back in 1938, and disappeared.

Although Madden doesn’t have any official status anymore, he still agrees to snoop around quietly, hoping to find evidence that would call for a reopening of the case. This will be quite a job, seeing as that eleven years have passed since the crime, and the people who have passed away that were involved makes it difficult to re-interview them.

There’s no proof that the necklace is the same one Portia was wearing the night she was murdered; the man who originally confessed to the crime had stopped the police from following other leads at the time and, worst of all, the man who confessed has already been executed. With all of these issues on his plate, Madden visits the crime scenes and interviews as many people as he can. But it’s when another anonymous letter is received that Scotland Yard finally agrees to reopen the case, taking the police in an entirely different direction.

This is the fifth book in this series and fans will come away with a deep desire to meet up with Madden again.

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