Exeter, 1195: At a local jousting day, there's a serious altercation between Hugh Peverel, lord of Sampford Peverel, near Tiverton, and a stranger by the name of Reginald de Charterai. Two days later, Hugh's body is found in a barn, stabbed in the back. Is de Charterai to blame? The county coroner, Sir John de Wolfe, soon finds plenty of other suspects for the killing of the almost universally hated Hugh Peverel. All three of his brothers had a motive: two for the succession and the third to steal Hugh's attractive young wife, Beatrice. It's no secret that Beatrice herself detested her adulterous husband, as did his mother-in-law, Adelina. Another suspect is Godwin Thatcher, a Saxon villager whose two sons were hanged some months earlier, being arbitrarily sentenced by Hugh at his manorial court. Then there's the manor reeve, Warin Fishacre, who harboured a deep grudge against his master for taking the virginity of his daughter, Maud, just before her marriage. With so many suspects to choose from, Sir John is confronted with one of the most difficult cases of his distinguished career.
Professor Bernard Knight, CBE, became a Home Office Pathologist in 1965 and was appointed Professor of Forensic Pathology, University of Wales College of Medicine, in 1980. During his 40-year career with the Home Office, he performed over 25,000 autopsies, and was involved in many high profile cases, including that of Fred and Rose West (he examined all twelve bodies that were recovered) and the child killer, Mary Bell. The author of ten novels, a biography and numerous popular and academic non-fiction books, he has written six books in the Crowner John mystrey series.