Knight fills in Sir John de Wolfe’s back story to show his rise from humble beginnings to the office of king’s coroner.
Sir John is a brave knight from Devon whose shrewish wife makes it preferable for him to be away from home for long periods of time. In 1192, the unsuccessful Third Crusade has left Richard the Lionheart trying to return home, accompanied by a small company of retainers that includes Sir John and his Cornish friend Gwyn. The group dwindles in strength as they fight their way through enemy territory until Richard is captured and held for ransom. The pair make their way home, where Sir John discovers that his business affairs have prospered but that his area of England, which the King had unwisely given to his disloyal younger brother Prince John, is beset by lawlessness. Sir John’s dislikable brother-in-law is a crony of the feckless prince, who is too busy plotting against the king to worry about the people. When Sir John and Gwyn come upon the body of a royal courier, they make it their business to hunt for the killer with the blessing of the king’s Chief Justiciar. They also start hunting down the outlaws who are making the roads unsafe for travelers, confident that once Richard is free, Sir John can expect to reap the benefits of his loyalty.
A prequel to Knight’s long string of historical mysteries detailing the life and times of the intrepid Sir John (Crowner Royal, 2009, etc.) that offers little mystery but much satisfaction for fans.