Fourteenth-century poet Geoffrey Chaucer solves the murder of a French comte, husband of his long-lost love.
Near the castle of Guyac, the emissary Machaut is ambushed and killed by an anonymous figure. Cut to Chaucer and his young fellow travelers, Alan Audly and Ned Caton, on a mission to solidify the fealty of Comte Henri de Guyac of Bordeaux to England’s King Edward III. Along the way, there’s a comic exploit involving a landlord’s randy wife and daughter, and the trio is secretly dogged by a villain named Hubert, posing as a monk, who attempts to set them on fire and kills a real monk named Bertram. Henri is married to beautiful Rosamund, to whom Chaucer long ago wrote love poems. While Rosamund and the also-married poet flirt with the idea of an affair, Henri leads the rest in attendance on an elaborately described boar hunt during which he’s murdered. Neighboring nobleman Gaston Florac seizes one-armed beggar Matthieu for the crime; when Chaucer protests and presses for an investigation, he and his cohorts are imprisoned and Matthieu is hanged. The resurrection of Bertram from the water where he had presumably drowned, however, endangers Hubert’s plans and aids Chaucer’s probe. He and his friends escape but return to solve the murder.
Morgan’s debut wraps a muted mystery in a crackling adventure and some top-notch history.