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Eighth in the Crowner John Series
on 17 December 2006
Bernard Knight, or to give him his correct title, Professor Bernard Knight, CBE, was a pathologist to the Home office until 1980 when he was appointed Professor of Forensic Pathology at the University of Wales College of medicine, 1980. He has written the extremely successful Crowner John series of medieval mysteries, of which there are now ten or eleven books, His character Crowner John is certainly among my favourite characters in medieval mysteries.
Exeter, 1195. Sir John de Wolfe is facing the wrath of the wife of one of Exeter's most prominent citizens. He has refused to hold an inquest on a prominent burgess and guild-master. The man had fallen dead across his horse's saddle, but this happened in front of witnesses and the man had recently been complaining of chest pains, plus there was no sign of injury on the body. However events take a turn when a straw doll with a spike through its heart is found under the saddle cloth of the dead man.
The dead man's wife is adamant that a spell had been cast upon her husband. A spell put on him at the behest of one of his business rivals who wants to acquire his business. With the help of her cousin, who happens to be a canon at the cathedral she begins a campaign in the name of mother church against witchcraft and the women in the town who are thought to practice the black arts. Sir John refuses to be drawn into the campaign, until, that is Nesta, his young Welsh mistress is accused of witchcraft. The only way Crowner John can save her is by finding the real culprit before the noose slips around Nesta's beautiful neck.