Year 1324. As England’s King and his French wife spar, the cruel and influential Despenser family rule the land.
Sir Baldwin de Furnshill, Keeper of the King’s Peace, is sent to Dartmouth by Bishop Walter II ostensibly to make sure a Frenchman leaves the country safely. In Dartmouth, Baldwin’s old friend, Bailiff Simon Puttock, must deal with the body of a man found in a roadwork hole and the mystery of a ship found burning at sea. All members of the crew are missing, save for the body of one man found amid the cargo. The arrival of hard-drinking but capable Coroner Sir Richard de Welles adds fuel to a volatile mix that includes a group of rival shipping merchants; a confessed murderer who is abjuring the realm; three traveling pavers; Pierre de Caen, a French knight and brother-in-law to Pyckard, a dying merchant whose wife was raped and murdered; and Sir Andrew de Limpsfield and his ship’s crew, who are in the service of Hugh Despenser and eager to catch Pierre, who they claim is a spy for the French. There’ll be more murders, beatings and fierce fights before Baldwin, Simon and Sir Richard are able to make sense of the web of interrelated crimes.
Complex and full of the obligatory medieval lore, but more gripping and faster-moving than others in the Knights Templar series (A Friar’s Bloodfeud, May 2006, etc.).