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The First Gabriel Taverner mystery Devon, 1607. Gabriel Taverner, former ship's surgeon turned country physician, is called to examine a rotting body found impaled on a blade. Identifying the corpse seems a hopeless task and the death is declared a suicide. But Gabriel is not satisfied and re-examines the body - making the first of a series of shocking discoveries that will lead him deep into the dark underbelly of the lucrative silk trade. As he investigates, Gabriel realises that not only was the death a murder - but even worse, he had a personal connection with the corpse.
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.
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...