cover image The Ravens of Blackwater

The Ravens of Blackwater

Edward Marston. St. Martin's Press, $20.95 (245pp) ISBN 978-0-312-11330-8

The murder of a Norman lord in late-11th century England brings together Chancery clerk Gervase Bret and highborn soldier Ralph Delchard in a second case, after The Wolves of Savernake. During William the Conqueror's consolidation of power in England, the two are sent, along with two clerics, to the Essex town of Maldon to investigate the charges of land-transfer irregularities against the powerful Norman, Hamo FitzCorbucion. On arrival, the foursome finds Hamo out of the country and his cruel eldest son, Guy, recently murdered, allegedly by the son of a serf who died during brutal and undeserved punishment. Guy's younger brother proves a wily opponent of the king's investigation, as Gervase, convinced by a local priest of the charged youth's innocence, begins his probe of Guy's death. Marston draws a resonant and historically accurate picture of life during the period, creating lively and appealing protagonists as well as believable deep-dyed villains. (Sept.)