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Ostara Publishing

Medieval Mysteries Series

Crime fiction titles set in the Middle Ages.

The Lions of the North - Edward Marston

The two men were courting danger. They knew that. Throughout all their discussions, it had been an invisible presence at their shoulders but it remained silent when their brave words instilled a heady confidence. Strength of purpose brought them to the city and enabled them to conduct their reconnaisance with care and precision. Bright sunshine blessed their enterprise. The swirling crowds were an ideal cover for them. It all went as planned. Darkness changed everything. The populous streets slowly emptied. The teeming wharves became deserted. The boisterous taverns closed for the night. The last of the day’s cacophony gradually died away. Even the competing smells of the city seemed to lose their pungency. York was no longer the bustling marketplace that had opened its gates to them at first light with a smile of welcome. A chill wind began to blow. They found themselves locked inside a cold and hostile prison.
The Wolves of Savernake - Edward Marston

‘The crouching figure who moved quickly and furtively along the river-bank paid no heed when birch and oak and ash came to life to bend and whisper all around him. He was a creature of the forest and knew its whims and willfulness of old. When a weeping willow dived angrily downwards to sweep the ground then thresh it with violent malice, the man did not even lift his eyes. Alric Longdon was a miller, one of eight in the area, a low, squat, round-shouldered man of forty or more with a compact strength in his hunched frame and a face as big, white, and plain as a sack of his own flour. He was carrying something in his hand and scurried along with a stealth born of long acquaintance with Savernake. Tied to the river for his livelihood, married indissolubly to the swift current of this tributary of the Kennet, he listened to the restless surge and followed water to his destination.’
The Dragons of Archenfield - Edward Marston

They were shocked when they saw the scene of devastation. Warnod’s house had been reduced to ashes. Only a few charred timbers remained to show where he had once lived with his doomed family. Golde let out a gasp of horror and brought her hands up to her mouth. Idwal sighed with compassion. Even Ralph Delchard was initially jarred. He walked around the perimeter of the house. “What could one man do to deserve all this?” he said. “The blameless often suffer the most in this world,” observed Idwal, darkly. “Thank heaven his suffering is over!” “There were no witnesses, my lord sheriff?” “None that will come forward,” said Ilbert. “An inferno like this? Think of the noise, the light.” “Everyone was struck deaf and blind.” “By fear?” “Or by agreement,” said the sheriff.
The Ravens of Blackwater - Edward Marston

“ a boat nosed its way slowly into the shallows of the River Blackwater near Maldon. After one more pull on the oars, the man hauled them into the craft and let it drift through the thickening reeds and the lapping water. When he hit something solid, he thought he had reached the bank but he turned round to find himself still several yards away from dry land. Something else had stopped the boat, a piece of driftwood perhaps or some other obstruction that had floated into his path. He clambered up to the prow of the boat and peered into the gloom, using one of the oars to prod about in the water until he encountered what felt like a solid object. It was nothing of the kind. When he pressed down hard, it sank briefly into the mud of the River Blackwater, then shot back to the surface and bobbed there defiantly. He was petrified. Lying on the water in front of him, hideously disfigured and staring up with sightless eyes, was the half-naked body of a man.”
The Serpents of Harbledown - Edward Marston

Appropriately, it was the leper who found her. Nobody had even noticed him, emerging from the trees like a ghost to join the end of the line. He was a tall, stooping figure in a leper’s cloak with his wooden begging bowl and clapper dangling from the cord at his waist. His head was enveloped by the hood and his face shrouded by a veil. The sound that came from his throat was high and piercing, like that of an animal caught in a snare. Pointing with horror, the leper was standing beside a clump of holly. His withered hand seemed to feel no pain as it pushed through the sharp leaves. He let out another cry before shuffling away in the direction of the hospital. By the time they reached the holly, the leper had vanished.
The Stallions of Woodstock - Edward Marston

As the riders struggled to bring their horses into line at the start, the noonday bell continued its sonorous boom in the background as if registering its disapproval of anything so frivolous as a mere horse race. The course was a straight mile long with enough undulations to test any rider. There was a leafy copse some two hundred yards before the halfway point. Onlookers had an excellent view of the race except for the fleeting seconds when the horses would be invisible in the trees. Two wooden stakes, set wide apart, marked the finishing line.
The Hawks of Delamere - Edward Marston

Who shot the Earl\'s finest hawk? Who is the hooded figure in the forest and the hidden witness crouching petrified but undetected? Ralph Delchard and Gervase Bret are called to settle a dispute between Church and State. Guests of the Earl, they find a well-guarded prisoner in the castle dungeons.
The Wildcats of Exeter - Edward Marston

In the gathering dusk of the Devonshire countryside, Nicholas Picard is riding home when a snarling wildcat attacks him. Neighbors find his lacerated body in the woods, but when they discover the slit in his throat, it soon becomes clear that human hands are responsible for his demise. Picard\'s death complicates an already difficult land dispute that Ralph Delchard and Gervase Bret have been sent to settle in nearby Exeter. The murdered man had a stake in the outcome, and now his widow, Catherine, believes she should be the rightful owner of the land in question. However, Picard\'s mistress and the mother of a previous deed holder see things very differently. So determined is each woman to prove her claim that Ralph and Gervase begin to wonder whether one of them is capable of murder.
The Foxes of Warwick - Edward Marston

“They had no more than fifty yards to ride before they came to a pathway through the forest, running alongside a dry ditch. It was in the ditch that the hounds were congregating, more out of curiosity than eagerness to sink their teeth into any quarry. On a command from the huntsman, the pack fell quiet and confined themselves to looking and sniffing. Henry dismounted and ran to the ditch with his lance at the ready but it was not needed.”
The Owls of Gloucester - Edward Marston

“Brother Owl delivered a sermon on the virtues of the monastic life and the benefits of true humility. The two boys listened patiently, sensing that this was part of their punishment, and stifling the yawns that would have seen them delivered up to their fearful master. Both were finding life within the enclave too full of constraints. Kenelm was a high-spirited lad with a mischievous nature which had not been entirely curbed by the swing of a birch rod. Elaf, smaller and more tentative, was easily led by his friend, often against his better judgement.”
The Elephants of Norwich - Edward Marston

“Richard de Fontenel was a hard man in a world that punished softness. He was ruthless, ambitious and acquisitive. The lady Adelaide’s fear was that she would be one more prize to be added to his collection. Though he was wooing her gently now, his manner might change sharply once she had succumbed.”
Falconer's Crusade - Ian Morson

Set in Oxford University in 1264, this murder-mystery follows Regent Master William Falconer, a progressive teacher and amateur detective, as he tries to solve the murder of a local servant girl. His students are under suspicion and Falconer is drawn into a world of heresy, magic and violence.
Falconer's Judgement - Ian Morson

The heavy scent of incense hung over the bedchamber like a miasmal fog that had risen off the River Tiber. The figure on the bed was draped in rich robes and his hands were clasped in silent prayer on his chest. Marble-faced, he seemed already to have metamorphosed into the icy statue that would soon top his tomb, without requiring the intervention of the stone-mason. In the far corner of the room a huddle of figures whispered urgently to each other, their heads close together as if afraid the figure on the bed would hear. One man turned his hooded eyes towards the bed, thinking he discerned movement, and almost craving the final stillness.
Falconer and the Face of God - Ian Morson

“As the wagon rumbled up Fish Street and de Askeles was turning back to the wagon’s interior, his gaze lit upon a cadaverous figure that lurked in the darkness of an overhanging doorway. For a moment their eyes met and a sort of recognition flashed between them – the semblancer of Death and one who resembled Death itself. De Askeles shuddered, shook his head, and the figure was gone. His brain thumping, the actor slumped back into the recesses of the wagon, and groped at his feet for the flagon that he had valiantly tried to empty on the journey. He missed the murderous look in Will Plome’s eyes, De Askeles was oblivious of the hatred he engendered in those around him – a fact which was to prove fatal.”
A Psalm for Falconer - Ian Morson

“They followed the line of monks into one of the side chapels, and at Brother Adam’s imperious gesture hefted the bundle on to a bench. To Falconer it seemed curiously light, and rather small for a body. God forbid it be that of a child. The monks, including the prior, stood in a hesitant circle, as though afraid to uncover the doleful shape enclosed by the tattered blanket. With a sigh Falconer stepped forward and lifted a corner gently. What he saw was totally unexpected, and he suddenly understood exactly what the men had been digging out of the sandy river bank he had passed the day before. Pulling the covering back carefully, he revealed not an identifiable body, but a skeleton. The assembled monks gasped in surprise, and retreated into a huddle near the altar. They had all been expecting a form fully clothed in flesh and were shocked to be confronted by nothing more than a bag of bones.”
Falconer and the Great Beast - Ian Morson

“It filled the crossroads in the centre of Oxford with its bulk, and soon drew a milling crowd to wonder at its size. The skin was grey, thick and as creased as an old man who had spent his life toiling in the fields through scores of summers. A solemn man with the king’s arms emblazoned on the front of his tabard stood at its head, holding a chain that looped around its enormous neck. Peasants in the crowd stood with their mouths agape, pointing calloused fingers at the monster. The black-clad masters of the university were equally agog, but outwardly behaved sagely, being more discreet in their examination, sharing whispered comments and knowing looks.”
Falconer and the Ritual of Death - Ian Morson

A William Falconer Mystery - Oxford University, 1271. As old buildings are pulled down to make way for a new purpose-built college, a body is revealed. Regent Master William Falconer deduces that the skeleton is twenty years old. He must try to recall any significant events, when England was involved in an earlier Crusade, which could provide a solution. As the heavens open, and Oxford is threatened with flooding, Falconer is drawn into violent events where the past and the present collide with startling consequences . . .
Falconer's Trial - Ian Morson

"Master William Falconer returns in this chilling and atmospheric medieval murder mystery. - ""Oxford"," April 1272." The Lady Ann Segrim has been murdered, and a Regent Master has been taken at the scene of the crime, red-handed. The suspect is William Falconer, but, strangely, he doesn t deny the charges. Using Falconer s own logical methods to solve the crime, Symon, along with Saphira Le Veske, Falconer s new lover, sets out to clear his name, uncovering an extraordinary plot in the process."
Falconer and the Death of Kings - Ian Morson

Master William Falconer returns in this chilling and atmospheric medieval murder mystery. - Oxford, January 1273. When Regent Master William Falconer receives a cryptic message from Friar Roger, an old friend whose experimental scientific ideas the church consider heretical, he travels to Paris to find him. On arrival, he discovers his friend has been incarcerated in a friary, and he must work to ensure that his scientific theories are not lost forever. But, unbeknownst to Falconer, King Edward has a task for him one that will test even the Regent Master s legendary powers of deduction."
The Legend of Hereward - Mike Ripley

\"On mid-summer’s eve in the year 1063, just before noon, two young men, heavily armed, rode into Bourne looking for a fight.\" It was the beginning of the Legend of Hereward – but which Hereward? Hereward The Outlaw? Hereward the Firestarter? Hereward the Plunderer? Hereward the Witch-Killer? Was he an English hero leading a last-ditch resistance against William the Conqueror and the invading Normans, whose exploits inspired the romantic myth of Robin Hood? Or was he a dangerous ‘berserker’ for whom murder, deceit and betrayal were constant companions? More than a century on from his short and violent life, it is the learned monk Gerald of Wales (Giraldus Cambriensis or Gerald de Barri) who has to piece together – and put a favourable gloss on – the legend of Hereward and reveal what happened at the siege of Ely and its Abbey, deep in the flooded and mysterious East Anglian Fens. On first publication, Professor Bernard Knight, author of the acclaimed ‘Crowner John’ series, wrote: “(Mike Ripley) portrays his hero as a pretty awful character, a psychopathic killer and arsonist, but a brilliant tactician when it came to slaying Normans. Though the hard historical facts about Hereward are thin on the ground, this book makes you believe that everything the author describes must have happened just as he says.”
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