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The Pardonerís Crime
First in the Sandal Castle Series

by Keith Souter
(Aka Keith Moray)

      King Edward II has sent Sir Richard Lee, a Sergeant-at-Law and Circuit Judge of the Northern Realm, with his assistant, Hubert of Loxley, to Sandal Castle. There they will be in charge of the court, and make sure that the law is being upheld. But there are outlaws in the woods - Robin Hood and his Merry Men! There isnít much law in the town of Wakefield either, as a young woman has been raped and nothing is being done about it. The new deputy steward, Sir Thomas Deyville, has a heavy hand (and a beautiful daughter) but his punishments seem over harsh. It is up to Richard and Hubert to sift fact from fantasy and discover what is really going on before worse happens - can Robin Hood really be a villain?

Thanks to a lively TV series the legend of Robin Hood is enjoying a surge of popularity, so this book ought to attract interest. It reminds readers that despite the usual setting of Richard Iís reign, the legend has various other possible locations and periods, some like this one backed by records. Anybody who enjoys mysteries set during the Middle Ages will be welcoming another new series which boasts two likeable protagonists and the less usual location of Yorkshire. The plot kept me guessing (I didnít guess right) until the denouement, and there always seemed to be something going on that was both interesting and germane to the story. I have no doubt those purists who rate history higher than mystery in the pages of fiction will find some flaws, but anybody who enjoys a pacy story ought to find plenty to praise. Richardís recounting of the recent uprising to Hubert is one way of getting the reader acquainted with what has gone before, but it had a clunky, awkward feel to it and surely Hubert would have been aware of most of it anyway? This minor moan aside, I do look forward to getting better acquainted with Richard and Hubert and hope this series flourishes.

The Book

Robert Hale
January 2008
Historical Crime / 1322 Wakefield, Yorkshire, England
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2008
© 2008