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In this, Book II of the Hawkenlye Trilogy, the Abbess Helewise takes on another strange case with her French partner, Josse d'Acquin. A lumberjack in the Wealken forest has been found dead. The locals would have it that the mythical Forest People are to blame for his violent end. But when the Abbess Helewise steps in to investigate, she thinks a supernatural solution too easy an answer. She consults her friend Josse d'Acquin, a French soldier of fortune who has helped her many a time. He, concerned about the safety of the abbey, ventures into the forest himself, only to find in this so-called haunted wood something that terrifies even him. Now the two must reconcile superstition with their better judgement.
It is 1157, and a young nun from Hawkenlye Abbey has been found with her throat slashed. The people of rural Kent are quick to jump to conclusions: Surely the murderer must be one of the felons released by the new king, Richard Plantagenet, as a sign of his goodness and charity. When King Richard dispatches a soldier of fortune, Josse d'Acquin, to investigate the shockingly brutal crime, Josse understands that his true mission is to absolve the king from blame. But neither the king nor Josse has reckoned with the one person who is determined to find the truth at all costs--the remarkable Abbess of Hawkenlye, who ultimately joins with Josse to uncover the menace lurking behind the orderly facade of life in the convent and the surrounding manors. Fortune Like the Moon not only recreates the violence and beauty of medieval times but introduces a truly wonderful new pair of detectives.
At the end of a dark and dreary market day, Goody Anne's inn at Tonbridge is finally settling down for the night. But while Anne's serving maid and boy finish up their chores, a man lies dying in the guest chamber-poisoned by a piece of pie made by Goody Anne herself.Josse d'Acquin, a knight with a knack for solving mysteries, is troubled by the news of the stranger's death. Josse has been a regular visitor to Goody Anne's, and he hates to think that Anne-or her fine cooking-has fallen suspect. He rides off to the scene of the crime and starts his own investigation. When Josse discovers wolf's bane in the remnants of the pie, he knows that someone must have tampered with Anne's cooking. And when he learns that a charming, handsome nobleman ordered a piece of that very pie, Josse is convinced that the poison was meant for this upper-class guest, and not for the poor stranger who died alone in Anne's guest chamber.After failing to persuade the Sheriff that the death was suspicious, Josse turns to his old friend, the formidable Abbess Helewise. Weakened from a severe bout of fever, the Abbess nonetheless provides a thread of common sense as Josse follows the trail of murder into the ancient, mysterious Wealden Forest, and finds something there that will change his life forever . . . .
In the Great Wealden Forest, power has fallen into the wrong hands. It is Midsummer 1195. A ruthlessly ambitious man has fallen deeply into debt, his desperate situation made even more difficult by the contribution he has had to pay towards King Richard's ransom. To make matters worse the beautiful wife he tricked into marriage has tired of him and her mother hates his guts. But then he makes an extraordinary discovery that dramatically changes his fortunes . . . until his lifeless body is found hidden in the undergrowth. Which of his many enemies loathed him enough to resort to murder? Josse d'Acquin, driven by his love for the Abbess Helewise and for the other mysterious woman whom he holds in his heart, knows that he has no choice but to investigate. But the personal cost will be high . . .
It is February 1194. A desperately ill man is making for Hawkenlye Abbey in the hope of a miracle cure. In his delirium he sees the Virgin Mary and, sinking to his knees, he begins to pray. She is the last person he will ever see. The winter cold intensifies and the Vale lake freezes over. It is only when the thaw sets in that a corpse is discovered in the icy waters, its skull crushed by a lethal blow. With no clues on the body but an apothecary's remedy, Abbess Helewise asks her trusted friend Sir Josse d'Acquin to find out the man's identity. As Josse sets out on his mission, a party of sick people arrive seeking help, and their sickness looks terrifyingly like plague . . .