The Crow is one member of the Corvus family of medium to large sized birds. Other members are the Rook, Raven, Carrion Crow, and Hooded Crow. They are one of the most intelligent species of birds on the planet, being widely know for using tools and constructing tools. They mate for life, but also gather in large colonies and so when a member of the colony dies, they can hold funerals for the deceased bird and are also known for having long memories and being able to remember faces. The collective name for a group of crows is a murder of crows, also they can take the life of another crow following a crow court, where another bird has entered their territory or has tried to steal food. This brings us to this month’s first book review, which follows the lives of the residents of a small English town in the 1840’s after the discovery of a scandal in the community. It’s called Crow Court by Andy Charman and is published by Unbound ( www.unbound.com ) on the 24th February.
In the Spring of 1840, the Dorset town of Wimbourne Minster is rocked by the discovery of the body of a choirboy, who has drowned himself in the local river. Shortly after the Choirmaster, a belligerent and vicious man, is found murdered. The repercussions and the scandal associated with it will reverberate through the community for years to come.
The premise of this book is very appealing, the blurb on the back sells it as a quaint story of murder, mystery and betrayal in a small rural town on the south coast of England. But when you get into reading it you are met with something completely different. it’s not one complete story, but series a collection of short stories, vignettes even. Set around, loosely in some cases, and connected to the characters and events of the suicide and murder depicted in the first two. I didn’t actually realise what was happening until over half way through the book.
Charmans’s story telling and writing style is unusual too and this is what led to realise I was reading a collection of short stories. Because it regularly jumps from first to third person narrative. His use of the Dorset dialect is at times earthy, and some people maybe delighted at the inclusion of a glossary at the back of the book, but for me I did wonder if some of the characters were actually supposed to be foreign with the bad English or the over use of the letter ‘z’ in the dialogue. But I think if this book comes out on Audible down the road, I may get to appreciate the Dorset dialect a bit more when read by a local.
This English author Andy Charman’s ( https://www.crow-court.com/ ) first book. His short stories have appeared in various anthologies and magazines over the years. He grew up in Dorset not far from Wimbourne Minster, but now lives in Surrey.
I enjoyed reading this book and would see it as a nice choice for a book group. So if you feel your group needs to spread its wings a bit, then flit down to your local book shop or order a copy online to wing its way to you physically or digitally.
Reviewed by Adrian Murphy
This book review is part of a Random Things blog tour, to see what the other readers thought, visit their sites listed below. Then, if you get a copy, comeback and tell us what you thought. We’d really appreciate the feedback.