Mysterious Press, Jan 2003, 23.95, 304 pp.
In England in 1371, the Bishop of Winchester, William of Wykeham, wants to regain his position of lord chancellor of the realm if he can avoid the plots against him led by John of Gault, Duke of Lancaster. William and his entourage travel to the palace of the Archbishop hoping to make peace with the Pagnell family who blame him for their father's death in a French prison. The family believes the Bishop stole some of the ransom money, which led to the French king's refusal to release his prisoner.
While the bishop looks at a church that is being rebuilt, a piece of the roof falls off and nearly kills him. He believes it is a Lancastrian plot to murder him and becomes further convinced when his York property burns to the ground, killing a herbalist and severely wounding a tenant's servants. The Archbishop charges his steward and captain of his guard to find out who is responsible for these events, a job made easier in resolving but more difficult on Owen Archer's gut by his wife's insisting she help him.
The events of this book take place during the period the Duke of Lancaster tries to establish his influence over his nephew who will one day be King Richard II. Knowing the time frame help the reader understand the political undertones of the story line that serves as a reference point to the behavior of the characters. Owen Archer is a heroic figure who worries so much about his wife that he endears himself to the audience. THE CROSS-LEGGED KNIGHT is a fascinating historical mystery.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner