County Coroner Sir John de Wolfe (Figure of Hate, 2005, etc.) investigates a series of brutal murders in 12th-century England.
The discovery of the murdered crew from a shipwreck off the south Devon coast is just the first in a string of atrocities. The captain was the husband of Sir John’s former mistress Hilda, and his investigation troubles both his shrewish wife Matilda and his current mistress. The only clue is the word “Saracen,” uttered by a dying crew member. After a series of horrific murders, all apparently related by the use of an unusual knife and crossbows with Arabic lettering, Sir John realizes that all the victims were connected to a disastrous crusade. Meanwhile, Sir John’s disgraced brother-in-law Richard de Revelle, son of a crusader, is involved in a scheme to make money for Prince John, who’s still trying to seize his brother’s throne. The King of France has sent Nizam, a Mohammedan alchemist, to work with a Scot to turn base metal to gold, and Richard is providing them the supplies they need and a secret place to work. When Hilda goes on her own crusade to track down her husband’s killers, she’s made a prisoner, along with Matilda and Richard. Only Sir John’s last-minute arrival saves the day.
More adventure than mystery, Knight’s tenth populates a detailed, almost scholarly study of the period with well-drawn characters.