Barbara Gaskell Denvil, author
The battle is over. Jack scrambles from the wreckage, to find himself still alive although his friends and family are lost. He must forge a new path ahead, and adapt to an ever-changing world. There is a new Tudor king on the throne, new laws and new challenges. But what he never expects to find is his favourite cousin’s murdered corpse, and himself suspected as the killer. A growing romance helps Jack discover his courage, but there are many more obstacles to overcome. Arrested and thrown into Newgate Gaol, Jack is helped by the one person he most desires. But the real killer must still be uncovered.
This medieval thriller has some of the earmarks of Denvil’s The Flame Eater—a complicated romance, the darkly comical portrayal of family, and a murder mystery to keep the suspense going. The hero is Sir Alexander Quyrril, Baron Mornington, who survives the same battle in 1485 that takes King Richard’s life, ushers in the new Tudor monarchy, and brings about his family’s political downfall. Staggering from the battlefield, he tousles in a barn with Katherine Ashingham, who is in a boyish disguise and betrothed to the Earl of Sheffield. They part ways, but both end up in London in the grand Sheffield House with Alex in disguise as a servant and Katherine married to the Earl. To avoid consummating her marriage, each night Katherine enlists Alex, the spice clerk, to spike her husband’s wine. As Alex becomes the prime suspect in three murders and a kidnapping, much entertaining mayhem follows—lightly farcical at times and darkly sinister at others—and an unhinged cleric becomes obsessed with Alex’s alleged sins. Poisoning, false accusations, and the plague all play a hand. Marring the story are Katherine’s prudishness and her tortured romantic naiveté; however, the revelatory characters and medieval history will give readers much to enjoy. (BookLife)