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Third in a series of medieval mysteries (The Death of a King, etc.) featuring Hugh Corbett, clerk to the court of King Edward I and confidant of Bishop Burnell, the King's Chancellor. Hugh is in Scotland, at Burnell's request, to investigate the death of Scots King Alexander III, fallen with his horse Tamesin from a clifftop on a seemingly impulsive, reckless, stormy-night visit to his recent French bride Yolande. Here, however, Hugh feels himself surrounded by enemies--even in Edinburgh's Abbey of Holy Rood, where he's staying with servant Ranulf. King Edward's designs on his neighboring country are well known, not only to the Scots but to the French, whose envoy Armand Decraon protects the interests of his king. Meanwhile, Alexander's death is followed, in suspicious circumstances, by those of the two men who escorted him on the fatal night. Though Hugh's patient inquiries are coldly received, he presses on, conferring occasionally with John Benstede, King Edward's official emissary; venturing into the forest of the savage Picts; and crossing the Firth of Forth for a frustrating audience with Queen Yolande. Throughout it all, several attempts on Hugh's life only strengthen his resolve--until he gets his answers at last. Justice is in other hands. A complex plot that's none-too-well served by the author's rough-hewn prose or his depressed, humorless hero. The many and doubtless accurate accounts of a filthy, barbarous Edinburgh only add to the dispirited atmosphere. History fans will enjoy; for others, heavy going.

Pub Date: June 2nd, 1988
Publisher: St. Martin's