In this, the 16th of the Hugh Corbett medieval mysteries, Doherty has poor Hugh out on the road again at the behest of his often petulant, scheming King (Edward I). A bejewelled, stolen Templar cross is the MacGuffin for this adventure, kept from the King by an unscrupulous manor lord who has also caused unrest in his lands by the sudden massacre of fourteen “heretics” of a new age-y religious order. Add in the usual suspects—a young, beautiful and unhappy wife, an imperious abbess, a couple of ambitious priests and a ghostlike “sniper/archer”—and you’re all set for another suspenseful few days of murder and mayhem as Hugh and his assistants track down the truth.
It’s an engaging enough read, but there’s a slight feeling of weariness to the writing, aka serial fatigue on the author’s part. I just happened to have picked up a previous Hugh Corbett novel before I received this one to review, and the similarities of both plot and character presentation are striking. However, Doherty’s attention to the details of life in 1304 is outstanding (sometimes maybe a little too much), and the reader becomes readily immersed into a different time and place that makes for an interesting reader’s get-away for a rainy afternoon.