Life in medieval England continues to be a struggle for survival, with death a constant companion.
Sir Baldwin de Furnshill, Keeper of the King’s Peace (The Templar’s Penance, 2003, etc.), feels obligated to help his old friend Bailiff Simon Puttock investigate the death of his loyal servant Hugh, whose home was near the village of Iddesleigh. The area is coveted by Sir Geoffrey Servington, Steward for the Despenser family, whose greed for land and lucre knows no bounds. Trying to hold the land is Sir Odo de Bordeaux, who owes allegiance to Sir John Sully. The same day that the bailiff’s servant and his family are slaughtered and their house burnt, Sir Odo’s bailiff is ordered from his house, which also goes up in smoke. Baldwin, his wife and child and their servants Edgar and Emma settle at a small inn, where local gossip puts the blame on Sir Geoffrey. But the mystery is complicated by the discovery of the bodies of Ailward, Servington’s sergeant, after a dangerous game of football, and Lady Lucy, a wealthy young widow who had been tortured and thrown in a bog. Hugh is discovered alive, hidden by one of two mysterious clergymen newly arrived in the area. Baldwin weaves the strings into a pattern that throws blame where it belongs and brings uneasy peace to the West Country.
Target audience: history buffs interested in period minutiae.