I picked up another Brother Athelstan mystery recently, and enjoyed it so much that I got this one out to read. This is the twelfth of the Brother Athelstan mysteries, set in January 1381. The growing tension between the regency of John of Gaunt over the boy king Richard II and the Upright Men with the threats of uprisings, brutal murders, and retribution for all is captured brilliantly. There is a deep undercurrent of threatening violence in every page of the book, even when Athelstan and his friend John Cranston are moving through the city on their business. The story of the murders, of the spies and the plotting of all parties is direct and specific; but it is part of a much larger tale of the war between povery and power which is moving towards its bloody conclusion in these Athelstan stories and in the late fourteenth century English setting. I can't wait for the next one to see what happens next.