By Bernard Knight
Pocket Books (Simon & Schuster) - February 2002
ISBN 0684860708 - HB
Mystery / Historical Crime
1195 Exeter, Devon, England

Reviewed by: Rachel A Hyde,
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I continue to enjoy Knight's gritty realistic picture of life in the late 12th century, which has the feel of authenticity about it that is the next best thing to a trip in a time machine. In his sixth adventure, the hapless Crowner John has to find out who is killing a seemingly random group of people and leaving quotations from the Bible on the bodies. It has to be somebody who can write and this narrows it down to clerics, and strange ones who are likely to be murderers. Unfortunately, the most likely culprit is his own wretched clerk Thomas de Peyne.

Knight portrays a time when even a rich person owned hardly anything compared to most people today. Punishments were brutal and Prince John was likely to do just about anything on a whim.

This is all wonderfully gripping as the murderer disposes of more and more people and John races to find the true culprit and save Thomas. The author shows how well he knows his area (as an Englishwoman I can vouch for this!) Knight uses humor to temper the drama and tragedy and strikes the right balance, even managing to deftly fit in some of a coroner's daily tasks, which add to the authentic feel. This series started adequately but seems to get better and better as the characters get into their stride and Knight has a fun with it all that is infectious. An enjoyable way to find out what life in the Robin Hood period was really like.

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