Author: Michael JECKS
Original language: English
Publication date: 1996
In fourteenth-century Devon, villeins were as much the property of their masters as manor houses and land; runaways were routinely apprehended and brutally punished. But when Peter Bruther flees from the home of Sir William Beauscyr, he has the cunning to set up as a tin miner on the moors, putting himself automatically in the protection of the king, who rakes in a fortune in taxes from the tinners. When the bailiff of Lydford, Simon Puttock, informs Sir William that he has no legal claim on his wayward servant, the knight is furious, fearing an uprising amongst his other men.
Before any dissent can spread, Bruther’s body is found hanging from a tree on the moors, and Simon, assisted by former Knight Templar Sir Baldwin Furnshill, finds himself investigating cold-blooded murder. There is no shortage of suspects, amongst them Sir William’s two feuding sons, Robert, the heir, with much to lose, and John, a cynical mercenary soldier contemptuous of the lower orders; Sir William himself, who finds the king’s support for the tinners intolerable; and Thomas Smyth, a wealthy tinner whose men ruthlessly enforce a protection racket funded by landowners.
In an already tense atmosphere, the pressure is on Simon and Baldwin to unravel the truth before further violence ensues – and the scene is set for an excellent mystery which sheds new light on the people and ways of medieval Devon, and tells a fast-paced and exciting tale of murder, blackmail and revenge.