An honorable English knight confronts danger and deception on a mission to France.
Sir Baldwin de Furnshill and his bailiff Simon Puttock have been ordered to join the escorts of Queen Isabella, sister of the French king and unhappy wife of Edward II, king of England. Edward is still carrying on a scandalous romance with greedy, vicious Sir Hugh le Despenser, whose hold on the king is ruining the country. Now that England has lost the land it held in France, Isabella’s mission is to negotiate with her brother for its return. Even before the trip starts, several murders in London are used to blackmail a troupe of English musicians to join the queen’s retinue in order to spy on her. Along the way a French count is killed and Baldwin is framed for the crime. Still more fatalities await in Paris. As Baldwin investigates, he senses the disparate murders are connected, but there is no one but Simon he can trust. Even the other members of his party have their own agendas, some as spies for Despenser and others for Roger Mortimer, a valiant English general, whose hatred for Despenser has cost him dearly.
As usual in Jecks (The Malice of Unnatural Death, 2007, etc.), the meticulous period detail paints a compelling portrait of medieval life, this time with the bonus of a well-integrated mystery.