In fourteenth-century Devon, villeins were as much the property of their masters as manor houses and land; runaways were routinely apprehended and brutally punished. But when Peter Bruther flees from the home of Sir William Beauscyr, he has the cunning to set up as a tin miner on the moors, putting himself automatically in the protection of the king, who rakes in a fortune in taxes from the tinners. When the bailiff of Lydford, Simon Puttock, informs Sir William that he has no legal claim on his wayward servant, the knight is furious, fearing an uprising amongst his other men.
Before any dissent can spread, Bruther's body is found hanging from a tree on the moors, and Simon, assisted by former Knight Templar Sir Baldwin Furnshill, finds himself investigating cold-blooded murder. There is no shortage of suspects, amongst them Sir William's two feuding sons, Robert, the heir, with much to lose, and John, a cynical mercenary soldier contemptuous of the lower orders; Sir William himself, who finds the king's support for the tinners intolerable; and Thomas Smyth, a wealthy tinner whose men ruthlessly enforce a protection racket funded by landowners.
In an already tense atmosphere, the pressure is on Simon and Baldwin to unravel the truth before further violence ensues - and the scene is set for an excellent mystery which sheds new light on the people and ways of medieval Devon, and tells a fast-paced and exciting tale of murder, blackmail and revenge.
"Tin mining in medieval Devon doesn't sound like the most enthralling setting for a murder mystery, does it? But Jecks takes full advantage of the strange legal situation regarding tin miners - namely that if you claimed a piece of land and started mining tin on it, then the land is yours, even if it belonged to someone else beforehand - and crafts a story where the motivations are such that the story could ONLY be set in medieval Devon. It's not always the case that a historical mystery takes full advantage of the setting, but that is certainly true here. ...Highly Recommended."
- The new paperback edition was published by Simon & Schuster on 6th June; it is available from Amazon UK, or from any bookshop (ISBN: 978-1-4711-2647-5).
- It is also available in a Kindle edition from Amazon.
- A Moorland Hanging is available as a Soundings Audio book, read by Michael Tudor Barnes: order the audio edition direct from the publisher, (ISIS), in CD or audio cassette format.