Yet another vexing case for Sir Hugh Corbett, Keeper of the Secret Seal, personal emissary of Edward I of England and clever sleuth.
Furious over the looting of his treasury, a good deal of whose riches have not been recovered, King Edward sends Hugh Corbett and his companions Ranulf, Principal Clerk of the Chancery, and Chanson, Clerk of the Stables, off to question Lord Oliver Scrope. Scrope is a hot-tempered man who recently massacred a group of religious men and women he considered heretics. The King is interested in a fabulous jeweled cross Scrope took from the battlefield at Acre. The cross belonged to the Knights Templar, who want it back. When Corbett arrives in Mistleham, he finds a town in fear of the Sagittarius, an archer who’s killing people apparently at random. The man calling himself Nightshade, who told the parish priest that Scrope must confess his sins in the market square, may be the Sagittarius. But other suspects abound. Scrope’s wife hates him, the mayor may be his by-blow and his sister is a nun who loved the cousin he left for dead at Acre. When Scrope is murdered in a locked room on his private island, Corbett has ever more searching questions to ask. Well aware that no one is telling the truth, he uses his keen intellect to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Hugh’s 16th adventure (The Waxman Murders, 2010, etc.) is another fine historical mystery steeped in medieval atmosphere.