From the Inside Flap
It is the year 1260 and the great cathedral - the most ambitious building in all of Christendom - is slowly rising above the streets of Cologne. Far below its soaring spires and flying buttresses, an assassin of unnatural talent surveys his new hunting ground. More shadow than man, the assassin in quick to take his first life. But there is a witness to his crime: a flame-haired thief known as Jacob the Fox. Justly terrified by the black-clad spectre, Jacob runs for his life, convinced that he is pursued by the Angel of Death itself. For all his street-smart cunning, the wily Fox cannot shake off the assassin - a cruel-efficient murderer who favours a pistol-grip crossbow as his weapon of choice. Fate, injury and desperation lead Jacob to seek help from a beautiful clothes dyer, her drunken rascal of a father, and her learned uncle, a man of God who loves a battle of wits almost as much as he loves a bottle of wine. With the threat of an untimely death at the end of a crossbow bolt never far away, Jacob's unlikely cabal find themselves faced with a conspiracy born of an unquenchable thirst for revenge, a conspiracy that threatened to tear Cologne apart and stain the city with blood. Readers who loved the richly textured setting and historical accuracy of Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth or Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose will be thrilled to discover Frank Schätzing's vivid evocation of medieval Cologne.