The Killing Way
By Tony Hays
A Tom Doherty Associates Book
CSI meet Arthur; Arthur meet CSI. The Killing Way is a murder mystery set to Arthurian legend mixed with modern ideas of investigation techniques.
At Castellum Arturius, shortly before Arthur is to be elected ruler of Britain, a murder is committed putting Arthur in an awkward position when Merlin is accused of the crime. Arthur turns to Malgywn to investigate. A former soldier, the one armed Malgywn is not fond of Arthur. He would have preferred to die fighting the Saxons who had taken his wife’s life but all they got from him was his arm. He hates Arthur for rescuing him when death was all he craved. Malgywn, now a drunk who prefers to spend his time whoring and waiting for an early death, is not thrilled with the investigator role Arthur assigns him but has no choice. When he finds out that his dead wife’s sister, Eleonore, was the one found murdered, the case takes on a personal tone for him.
With his leadership role at stake, Arthur is in a hurry to have the murder solved but Malgywn tells him at the start that he’ll take as long as he needs to finish his investigation and won’t be swayed when it comes to the guilty. Although he doesn’t believe Merlin capable of murder, he keeps going back to him letting Arthur know things won’t be as clean and easy as he wants them to be. When a second woman shows up dead and a suspect goes missing, Malgywn gets pulled deeper into a world he tried for many years to fade out of.
The story moves fast and so does the investigation giving readers a look at the political landscape and the battles Arthur faces as the new leader of Britain. I liked the character of Malgywn, he’s gruff, mean-spirited, but fair. He also turns out to be kinder than one imagines; an old farmer, widower, and soldier who cares more than he wants to admit or believe. He doesn’t think he has much to gain but knows that Arthur has a lot to lose. In the end, he only wants to find the truth knowing he can’t let down either Eleonore or the memory of his wife.
It’s a short book, 264 pages only, and moves incredibly fast. It’s entertaining and the mystery takes a few turns before all is revealed in the end although for hard-core mystery readers, you’ll probably figure things out fairly quickly. I don’t read many mysteries but I did enjoy this one and the setting which was a nice change from the rather Sherlock Holmesy feel I get with most mysteries.