Those Who Go By Night
1324. When news of a man found murdered in a church reaches the Bishop of Lincoln’s ears, he sends his emissary, Thomas Lester, to investigate with the hopes of warding off an inquisition. But with the body positioned across the church altar in a sacrilegious manner, the archbishop also sends someone, a Dominican friar named Justus. Justus means to smoke out heretics no matter the cost, including by methods of torture and blackmail, in his quest for “the truth.” Thomas’s father is a disgraced Templar Knight who suffered under men like Justus, and Thomas struggles to keep the pain of his past at bay. As the murders continue, Justus’s harsh inquiries and manipulations of the townsfolk rapidly increase. If the friar has his way and Thomas isn’t able to unmask the culprit in time, a fierce inquisition will soon arrive on England’s shores.
The setting is immersive in all aspects. The sights and sounds are so vividly portrayed that it felt like stepping into a 14th-century English village. The characters are multilayered with unique personalities, making it easier to keep straight the various church fathers, monks, and friars. I enjoyed the dialogue, except for a few times when the message about a woman’s role in society became a bit preachy (being stated by various female characters in similar ways but with a slightly modern outlook). However, this is but a minor gripe. The pacing of the mystery is great, and the ending packs a couple of surprises. There are many secrets to uncover, and Gaddes does a nice job slowly revealing just enough to keep readers turning the pages. The door’s left open for more, thus I look forward to seeing what’s coming for Thomas Lester and his companions. A well-crafted historical mystery.