Death of a Squire by Maureen Ash. This is the second Templar Knight mystery featuring Bascot de Marins, his servant, Gianni and the other characters living in Lincoln castle early in the reign of King John (1200 AD) and it is an improvement over the first, The Alehouse Murders. Prior to the arrival of the King, a squire serving the sheriff’s brother is found hanged from a tree in the forest. Poachers are initially suspected, but as Bascot learns more about the victim, additional motives, both personal and political, are revealed which lead to suspects within the town walls.
Having just read Bernard Knight’s The Noble Outlaw, which is set only five years prior to Death of a Squire, I found it interesting that another Robin Hood-like character appears in this book as well. I was also surprised that Knight’s principal character is a coroner and yet Ash’s city of Lincoln has no such official.
Ash does a commendable job of creating the scene and providing details of daily life, both for residents of the castle and the forest. However, as with the first book, Bascot discovers the murderer, but feels he feels he lacks sufficient proof of guilt and must rely on a complicated ruse in order to reveal the killer. I hate it when writers use this device, especially when it is unnecessary, as in this case. This second attempt is better than the first, but still just average overall.