cover image The Noble Outlaw

The Noble Outlaw

Bernard Knight, . . Simon & Schuster U.K., $24.95 (344pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-9498-0

A serial killer targets respected guildsmen in Knight’s gripping 11th Crowner John mystery (after The Elixir of Life ), set in 12th-century Exeter. When Matthew Morcok, a former master saddler, is found mummified above a renovated school, the authorities call on Sir John de Wolfe and coroner’s clerk Thomas de Peyne to stop what is fast becoming “a campaign of terror.” Later victims include a master glazier, who’s strangled, and a candle maker impaled through the eye. John’s work is complicated by the conflict between his shady brother-in-law, Richard de Revelle, and “Nick o’ the Moor,” an outlaw who returned from the Crusades to find his estates expropriated by de Revelle and de Revelle’s cronies. John makes an arduous wintertime journey into Dartmoor to meet Nick, who’s actually a knight, Nicholas de Arundell. Nick’s plight so moves John that he takes the outlaw’s case to England’s “Chief Justiciar” for resolution. The author offers a vivid picture of medieval life with fascinating insights into England’s fledgling legal system. (Feb.)