Itinerant peddlar Roger the Chapman, now in his 70's, is recalling events of 50 years before, in 1475, when, for the third time (The Plymouth Cloak, 1993, etc.), he's called (by God, he's convinced) to use his detecting skills in the service of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, brother of King Edward. The road had led from Chilworth Manor in Southhampton, home of Sir Cedric and Lady Wardroper and their young son Matthew—just accepted into Duke Richard's household—to London, where the Duke awaits departure for yet another onslaught on France in his Majesty's service. But Roger has accidentally found the corpse of spy Thaddeus Morgan and uncovered what appears to be a conspiracy on the life of Duke Richard, to take place before the Eve of Saint Hyacinth. Roger joins Richard's court at Baynard's Castle in London, acquaints himself with Matthew Wardroper, Richard Boyse, Lionel Arrowsmith, Timothy Plummer, and others serving the Duke, ever trying to seek out the untrustworthy, as various attempts on the Duke's life fail. Not until Richard's court and its soldiers, along with those of King Edward and George, the Duke of Clarence, arrive in Calais, prepared for a siege that never happens, are perpetrator and motive revealed—not a moment too soon for the benumbed reader. A wearying chronicle of coincidences, whispered conversations, shadowy figures, and endless chewing over of possibilities—though it may be lightened for some by its scholarly, behind-the-scenes look at the domestic details of a royal court.
Read full book review >