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In 1321, the King's favorite, Hugh Despenser, is using his position to steal land and wealth from the other lords. His rapacity has divided the nation, and civil war looms. In Tiverton, rape and murder have unsettled the town, which is preparing for the feast of St. Giles; Philip Dyne has confessed and claimed sanctuary in St. Peter's church. Sir Baldwin Furnshill, Keeper of the King's Peace, and Bailiff Simon Puttock, arrive at Lord Hugh de Courtenay's castle at Tiverton for the feast. When a messenger arrives calling for the coroner, Baldwin and Simon accompany him to view the body of Sir Gilbert of Carlisle, Despenser's ambassador to Lord Hugh. Not far off lies a second corpse—the decapitated figure of Dyne. When Baldwin and Simon are themselves viciously attacked, they know that a sinister force is at large, someone with a powerful motive to kill. But there are so many suspects.
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Michael Jecks gave up a career in the computer industry to concentrate on writing and the study of medieval history, especially that of Devon and Cornwall. He lives with his family in northern Dartmoor.From Publishers Weekly:
In this medieval romp, the ninth in the series (Belladonna at Belstone, etc.), Sir Baldwin de Furnshill, keeper of the king's peace in Crediton, and his old friend, Bailiff Simon Puttock, join the throngs gathering at Lord Hugh de Courtenay's castle in Tiverton to celebrate the midsummer feast of St. Giles. Trouble is afoot. Hugh Despenser, King Edward II's corrupt favorite, is attracting nobles to his ignoble cause and threatening civil war. Someone murders Sir Gilbert de Carlisle, Despenser's ambassador to Lord Hugh, while he's carrying a chest of gold to the king. The head and body of outlaw Philip Dyne are found nearby. Harlewin le Poter, coroner of Tiverton, announces that Dyne killed Sir Gilbert; two upright citizens then beheaded Dyne as he was trying to escape. Meanwhile, St. Giles Fair is in full swing. Its festivities provide a delightful picture of everyday life in the Middle Ages. Everything, from dress to living accommodations to common speech (especially the curses), rings true. This is a crowded tapestry of a book, peopled with well-developed villains of every stripe. One of the most difficult aspects of solving the case is the sheer number of suspects. It seems that everyone had some excuse to be in the forest glade where Dyne and Sir Gilbert were killed. Set upon by footpads and cutthroats, Sir Baldwin and Simon realize that the truth behind the murders is far more sinister and complex than the coroner imagines.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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