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Friday, September 27, 2013

The Hawks of Delamere by Edward Marston

Genre: Historical Mystery

Setting: Eleventh century England, after the Norman conquest.

First sentence:  It took three strong men to help him into the saddle.

This novel is the seventh in Marston's Domesday Book series.

After gaining control of England, the Norman king ordered a recording of all the land in England.  This record, the Domesday Book, detailed all of the parcels of land in England, and their rightful owners.

In Marston's novels, Ralph Delchard and Gervase Bret lead a group of King's commissioners.  Their duty is to visit the various towns and villages.  There, the commissioners investigate inconsistencies and errors in the Domesday Book.  The arrival of the commission is often a cause of concern for the local land owners.  Many of whom claim ownership of land that is not legally theirs.

In this installment of the series, the King's commissioners have arrived at Chester castle near the Welsh border.  The castle belongs to Earl Hugh.  Hugh is a man with a large appetite and a short temper.  Several untimely deaths in nearby Delamere Forest have convinced Hugh that the Welsh are planning an invasion.  Earl Hugh is holding a Welsh prince hostage in the castle's dungeon.

Why would the Welsh endanger the life of their prince by rebelling?

Can Ralph and Gervase discover the truth behind the killings and avert a bloody battle?

This novel is another satisfying tale in Marston's Domesday series.  I always enjoy the unique characters who people his novels.  And I thoroughly enjoy his entertaining dialog.

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