Mark Charan Newton, Drakenfeld

A locked room murder-mystery involving a king’s dead sister.

Lucan Drakenfeld is a Sun Chamber officer in the Royal Vispasian Union, a federation of kingdoms which looks and acts a lot like a cross between the European Union and the Roman Empire. The Sun Chamber is charged with investigating crime and enforcing the law across the Union, although it is never quite specified to whom the Chamber answers, except itself. (An oversight which left me with a niggling irritation once it became clear that Drakenfeld was going to operate in rarefied political circles: where does his authority come from and why does everyone accept it as legitimate?) Summoned home after his father’s unexpected death – ruled natural causes, but Drakenfeld comes to suspect there’s more to the matter – Drakenfeld and his bodyguard/friend Leana end up investigating the murder of the king’s sister.

Complicated as it first appears, it turns out to be even more complicated by the end.

Newton is no prose stylist, which leads to the characters here coming across a little flat. The resolution of the mystery, too, feels as though it comes a bit from out of the blue. On the other hand, I do like mysteries, Newton’s worldbuilding is plenty interesting, and it’s quite a relief to have a main character who doesn’t enjoy (and isn’t particularly good at) the personal application of violence. I look forward to seeing a sequel. Or, preferably, several.

2 thoughts on “Mark Charan Newton, Drakenfeld

  1. I’ve been interested in this one since reading his essay about SFF and violence at The Book Smugglers. Unfortunately it’s not pubbed in the US yet (sob sob) which means I’ll have to wait awhile to read it myself.

    On a slightly tangential note, I wish modern mystery writers were better at good prose. Granted, many of the older ones weren’t either–Sayers & Tey are the shining exceptions–but the extent to which that genre ignores prose is just plain odd to me.

  2. I wish more writers in general were better at the prose end of things. I mean, lots of them are, but lots of them are just stuck at bluntly workmanlike, with little grace.

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