By Michael Jecks
Headline - September 2001
ISBN 074726919X
Historical Crime / 1322, Devon, England

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde,
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This is the twelfth case for Sir Baldwin Furnshill (now enjoying wedded bliss and fatherhood) and his friend Bailiff Simon Puttock. Set only a couple of weeks after their disastrous sojourn at the Okehampton Tournament Sir Baldwin is licking his wounds when he is summoned to the small village of Sticklepath to investigate a murder. Rather a cold case though as the child's skeletal remains point to the victim of a bizarre murder a few years ago - bizarre because it was the last in a series of cannibalistic killings of young girls. Now it seems the killer is on the loose again and strange things prowl (and howl) in the night including perhaps a vampire!

This is another entertaining case for the intrepid pair although taken at a rather more leisurely pace than some of its predecessors. It is interesting too how Baldwin and Simon have changed - mainly during the last book and this one. Simon is revealed to be a credulous (and not very bright) fellow while Baldwin has mellowed through marriage. The latter I found most natural but Simon used to be more useful than this. There are however some grim and gritty descriptions of life in a mediaeval rural village on Dartmoor that have more of a ring of truth about them than in many other historical novels and cozy this tale ain't. You can almost smell the poverty and listening to descriptions of the famine years it is all a world away and this I applaud. Pick up the pace and give Simon his wits back and this series will continue to go from strength to strength. Fans of Susanna Gregory will probably like this novel in particular.

Michael Jecks has a website at

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