C12th Devon. Much of the country lies under the iron rule of the Royal Forest laws, with all hunting reserved to the King.
The penalty for killing a deer on the King's land is mutilation or death.
These harsh laws are rigorously upheld by the King's foresters, notorious for their greed and corruption.
June 1195. A tall, brown mare gallops into the sleepy village of Sigford, its rider dragged by the stirrup, the broken shaft of an arrow protruding from his back.
The embroidered badge on the dead man's tunic identifies him as a senior officer of the Royal Forest.
But, with plenty of money still in the victim's purse, the motive is a mystery.
When a second forest officer is violently attacked, Sir John de Wolfe begins to uncover evidence of a sinister conspiracy. And why is his unscrupulous brother-in-law, the sheriff Sir Richard de Revelle, taking such an interest in the case?
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 432 pages, maps
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster
- Publication Date: 01/09/2003
- Category: Crime & mystery
- ISBN: 9780743449908
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Review by juglicerr
A general review of this series:This is back in the good old days of law enforcement, when trial by combat was definitive and would-be plea bargainers had to fight their accomplice(s) to the death.I find these books fascinating as living history, perhaps even more than as mysteries. Knight always starts off with a glossary of terms. The period is not romanticized, but neither is it overly repulsive. Sir John de Wolfe went crusading with Richard the Lionheart. Now back in England, he has been appointed to the newly reconstituted office of Crowner (Coroner). He fights a pitched battle with his corrupt, treacherous brother-in-law, the Sheriff, over official territory. He is very unhappily married to Mathilda, his incompatible wife; their relationship makes sleeping in peasant huts while on duty a treat. One of the things that makes it interesting, is that although Sir John is the central character, and presumably to be regarded with sympathy, his marital problems are not entirely blamed upon his wife.John is assisted in his duties by his gigantic man of arms, and his clerk, a frail, defrocked priest.