Sharon K. Penman has written many historical novels, many of them large volumes of several hundred pages, all diligently researched and all of them highly acclaimed by the reading public. The novels featuring Justin de Quincey have been equally popular and take place in the late 12th century.
This is the fourth book in the Justin de Quincey series, a character we first came across in The Queen's Man, published in 1996. De Quincey can be likened to a modern day private detective, although he does his detecting work in the late 12th century. He is proud to call himself the Queen's man, the queen in question being Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of the late Henry II and mother of Richard the Lionheart.
Bowing to an urgent summons from his former lover, Justin de Quincey races to Paris. On arrival he is more than a little annoyed to find that the Lady Claudine was acting on behalf of a man he dislikes intensely, Prince John. Because of his closeness with John's mother Justin has already seen what John is capable of doing and also his intense desire to take the throne of England.
When John tells him of a document implicating him in a plot to depose his brother Richard, Justin is not sure what to make of the fact. The document is in fact a forgery and John on this occasion is innocent of the charge but the prince needs the help of Justin to locate and destroy the document before Richards hears of it . . .