Scotland in 1482 is a wild and fearsome place that may be the death of Roger the Chapman.
It’s hard to say no to a duke. Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who’s leading an army of invasion against King James of Scotland, asks Roger the Chapman to go to Scotland as bodyguard to James’s younger brother, the Duke of Albany, who has his own pretensions to the throne. A poor horseman, Roger finds the trip grueling, although as bodyguard he shares the comfort of Albany’s bed. Albany’s other companions ignore Roger (The Three Kings of Cologne, 2007, etc.) most of the time. Along the way Roger encounters many references to the sinister Green Man, a mythical figure associated with the old religion, and he’s warned by Gloucester’s spymaster to watch his back. After Gloucester and his army enter Edinburgh without a fight, Gloucester enters into negotiations which do not include making Albany the next king of Scotland. Oddly, Albany seems more interested in getting his old friend off the hook for murdering his wife and insists Roger prove his innocence before he returns to England. The clever Roger proves his worth as a detective, but finding the truth leads him into danger.
More travelogue than mystery, but both foreground and background are skillfully portrayed and enjoyable.