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A grove of huge oak trees in the Wealden forest is felled. And, as if some ancient curse is being brought alive, the man who wielded the axes meets with a violent end. The Sheriff claims the Forest People did it, but Abbess Helewise believes a supernatural solution is too easy an answer. She consults Josse d'Acquin, whose manor house in the Weald is now being renovated, and he, concerned about the safety of two girls from the abbey, enters the forest himself - to find something in this ancient part of Britain that terrifies even him.
Introducing physician-sleuth Dr Gabriel Taverner in the first of an intriguing series of mysteries set in early 17th century Devon. 1603. Former ship's surgeon Gabriel Taverner is attempting to re-establish himself as a country physician in rural Devon. But it's not easy to gain the locals' trust, and a series of disturbing incidents, increasing in menace and intensity, convinces him that at least one person does not welcome his presence. Called out to examine a partially decomposed body found beside the river, Gabriel discovers that he has a personal connection to the dead man. Teaming up with Coroner Theophilus Davey to find out how the man died, Gabriel uncovers some darker aspects of the lucrative silk trade which operates from nearby Plymouth. The more he finds out, the more frighteningly apparent it becomes that the people closest to him have been keeping dangerous secrets.
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 . . .
With Richard the Lionheart still being held hostage after his crusade, his people have been made paupers paying his ransom. The Abbess Helewise is struggling to keep her abbey going through a cold, brutal winter as she fends off starvation of her nuns and the local people. Then her son returns to her in desperate need of help after a seperation of nearly twenty years. He claims his wife is suffering mental torments and his son is mute. But when a man is found strangled, dangling from a tree near the abbey, her son and his family flee the very next day. Helewise and a local Knight, Josse d' Acquin, must investigate deep into the past to the time before Helewise took the veil. Were her handsome husband and enigmatic father-in-law all that they seemed? And can she prevent another terrible murder or will the sins of the fathers be laid upon her innocent son?
Josse D'Acquin and the Abbess Helewise are appalled by the views of the fanatical new priest, Father Micah, but are even more horrified when his body turns up by the side of the road. Whatever his methods he was a man of God. And, when it appears that a band of evangelical heretics, who Micah condemned to the stake, might be behind his death, the Abbess is torn by her compassion for their suffering and her duty to the church. When Josse realises that his desires to save the heretics she cannot possibly condone, he is forced to act against her wishes, risking the greatest friendship he has. For the Abbess, her friendship with Josse is deepening the longer he stays at the abbey, as is her awareness of his attractions as a man. Meanwhile Joanna, Josse's former lover, lives hidden in the forest with their baby girl, Meggie. Joanna continues to learn the skills and secrets of the pagan forest people but it is only at her initiation that she realises what mysterious powers have been unleashed. Despite their wisdom however the forest people are both feared by and vulnerable to outsiders. When Joanna nurses an injured woman back to health, she and Meggie find themselves in mortal danger.
An elderly pilgrim dies in Hawkenlye Vale. Nothing suspicious about that: he was gravely ill when he arrived. Meanwhile Josse d'Acquin has a visit from Prince John. Accompanied by his seer, the Prince urgently seeks news of a stranger, Galbertius Sidonius. Hurrying to Hawkenlye Abbey to enlist the Abbess Helewise's help, Josse finds that she has a problem of her own: a decomposing body has been discovered. Naked, and killed by an expert hand. Josse's brother, Yves, arrives; a visitor at Acquin has been asking for the brothers' father, Geoffroi, who went to Outremer with King Louis and Queen Eleanor. Josse, Yves and the Abbess are hurled into a mystery whose roots stretch back much further than the Second Crusade. And, watching them with his strange dark eyes, is the enigmatic figure of the Prince's Magister...
The serenity of Hawkenlye Abbey has been disturbed by the arrival of a new nun and her two young sisters. Recently orphaned, Alba has had to leave her convent at Ely to take her grieving sisters far away from the scene of their sorrow. However Abbess Helewise cannot quite believe in the selflessness of this gesture; Sister Alba is, everyone agrees, a mean-spirited and turbulent presence. The Abbess's anxieties grow when her old friend Josse d'Acquin is brought to Hawkenlye, half dead from blood poisoning. Then a body is discovered. And one of the sisters goes missing. In order to discover what really lies behind Alba's flight to Hawkenlye, Helewise sets off to visit Ely. She uncovers not only a clever network of lies, but also, hidden in a burnt-out cottage, the horrific remains of a dead man. . .
A man from London has taken over running the tavern on the main London to Hastings highway to the south of Tonbridge. He is not what he appears, and his arrival ushers in a sequence of apparently unrelated but disturbing events, whose escalating violence culminates in murder.
Shortly before his unexpected coronation, King Richard passed a law letting all of England's prisoners go free. Shortly afterwards a young nun is found, gruesomely murdered. Richard swiftly employs an old military colleague of his, Josse d'Acquin, to unravel this hideous mystery. Who could have wanted to kill this innocent young novice, and, more worryingly, why? Josse goes to Hawkenlye Abbey to find out the answers to these questions. He is having little success until meets the Abbess Helewise, a woman who quickly proves herself to be his equal, both as an amateur sleuth, and as a figure the community can rely on during this turbulent time for England. This duo have to find the murderer, and find him quickly, or they'll have the King of England to answer to...