The Wildcats of Exeter (Domesday, 8)

Written by Edward Marston
Review by Alan Cassady-Bishop

William the Conqueror’s Commissioners, on their nationwide progress to investigate irregularities in the property census, arrive in Exeter just as there’s a reported murder of a local lord, Pickard. That the victim is a prominent subject of their inquiry, with several contesting claimants, complicates the issue. It doesn’t help that the sheriff, Baldwin, is jealous of his rights of investigation. But is the killing related to the land disputes or Lord Pickard’s personal life? Exeter, once a major defence against Norman power, has now settled into an uneasy peace. But the death of a lord isn’t easy to solve when they have so many enemies around them, both Saxon and Norman.

Marston writes with authority of the historical period: Britain only decades under Norman rule. While no one can contest the Norman successful dominance, Saxon resentment still bubbles under a veneer of acceptance. This novel is an excellent addition to the series which gives a good window into life under an invader.