It's the year 1260 and the great cathedral - the most ambitious building in all of Christendom - is rising above the streets of Cologne.
Far below its soaring spires and flying buttresses, an assassin of unnatural talent surveys his new hunting ground. More shadow than man, the assassin is quick to take his first life.
But there is a witness to his crime: a flame-haired thief known as Jacob the Fox.
Justly terrified by the black-clad spectre, Jacob runs for his life, convinced that he's pursued by the Angel of Death itself. For all his street-smart cunning, the wily Fox cannot shake off the assassin - a cruel, efficient murderer who favours a pistol-grip crossbow as his weapon of choice.
Fate, injury and desperation lead Jacob to seek help from a beautiful clothes dyer, her drunken rascal of a father, and her learned uncle, a man of God who loves a battle of wits almost as much as he loves a bottle of wine. With the threat of an untimely death at the end of a crossbow bolt never far way, Jacob's unlikely cabal find themselves faced with a conspiracy born of an unquenchable thirst for revenge, a conspiracy that threatens to tear Cologne apart and stain the city with blood.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 560 pages
- Publisher: Quercus Publishing
- Publication Date: 26/08/2010
- Category: Historical mysteries
- ISBN: 9781849162456
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by passion4reading
It is 1260 and the new cathedral of Cologne is beginning to dominate the skyline of the city. Jacob the Fox, a petty thief, is the only witness to the murder of the cathedral's architect and has to run for his life. Finding shelter and support with Richmodis von Weiden, her dyer father and her uncle Jaspar, the dean of St Mary Magdalene's and a physician, they uncover a conspiracy involving one of the city's wealthiest and most respected families.This was an unexpected find in a bookshop while on holiday last year, and as I was born near Cologne and spent my formative years there, I just had to get it. I wasn't familiar with the author's name before and, dare I say it, I would wager that this is his first foray into the historical murder mystery genre. As such, it doesn't work terribly well, as the identity of the assassin and the conspirators is known from the start, and even though the intended second assassination target isn't revealed until the last 100 pages, I had guessed it well before that. The interest for the reader lies in the well constructed and researched atmosphere of medieval Cologne, which also covers recent history including the Seventh Crusade, the then current political scene and the philosophical and religious schools of thought prevalent at that time. With Jacob on the run from the assassin, the characters still have time for lengthy philosophical discussions and history lessons, something that felt a bit incongruous to me but which I enjoyed nevertheless. The characters are for the most part well drawn, even though I could have done without the love story angle.If you like intelligent historical murder mysteries with the emphasis on the history and not the mystery, then I suggest you give this one a go.
Review by borhap
I read this book about 10 years ago in German, and was fascinated by it; the first historical thriller set in Cologne that I read, I loved its closeness and exploration of Cologne's and its cathedral's history. <br/>Now, I still love the story, but was a little disappointed by the English translation, the sublime humor didn't come across.