Short Story Review: The Shoulder-Blade of a Ram by Edward Marston

It’s 1188, and Gerald, the Archdeacon of St David’s is accompanying Baldwin, the Archbishop of Canterbury around Wales to recruit soldiers to send on Crusade.  When they reach Haverfordwest, in Pembrokeshire, they hear how the local Flemings can divine the future with the shoulder-blade of a ram.  On the morning the entourage is suppose to quit the town and continue on their journey, a local woman is found strangled, and soon this rather bizarre claim is put to the test in the search for the murderer.

Naturally, things are not as they first appear, and tensions between the Welsh natives and the non-native Flemish population only serves to the muddy the waters further.  But the question is, can you really solve a murder by studying the shoulder-blade of a ram?

This was an interesting, fast-paced historical murder mystery.  I liked the setting and the characters, and was myself intrigued to read how the shoulder-blade of a ram would help to solve the crime.  I would certainly re-read this short story again.

This short story was found in Murder Through the Ages: A Bumper Anthology of Historical Mysteries, ed. Maxim Jakubowski.

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