THE KING'S SPIES (Historical Mystery-England-1102) – VG Beaufort, Simon – 4th in series
Severn House, 2003- UK Hardcover

Crusader Knight Sir Geoffrey Mappestone witnesses a man who is murdered by hanging. The man is a member of the Belleme family, who repeatedly conspire against King Henry. There is some evidence that the Belleme family has found the secret of Greek Fire and plan to use it against the King. Henry orders Geoff to infiltrate the Belleme castle to ensure their defeat and exile from England.

This is a wonderfully written book full of interesting, and mostly fact-based characters; Geoff who'd rather be back at the Crusades, his loyal friend Roger who is not always the sole of discretion, the gay squire Durand, Bishop Maurice of London who insisted his frequent need for sex was a medical necessity, and the Belleme women who practice witchcraft and fight as knights. This was a fascinating time in British History and Beaufort does an excellent job of using that period as a backdrop to what is essentially a murder mystery. Fans of historical mysteries will enjoy this.

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