Plague of a Green Man


In this Lady Apollonia mystery set in Geoffrey Chaucer’s England, the year is 1380 and winter is approaching.  The Lady of Aust is living in Devon while her three younger sons attend Exeter’s cathedral school.  Although there are many in the city who welcome her and the Aust investment in Exeter’s growing woollen cloth trade, one merchant blatantly challenges her with those whom he describes as his powerful friends.

Apollonia’s second husband, the franklin Edward Aust, is required to be in London while the Lady works with his steward to manage their family’s expanded investments in Devon.  Through several of her new friends in Exeter’s clergy and the merchant community, Apollonia becomes aware of a mysterious series of threats from a creature known only as a green man, an ancient foliate face of menace.

Edward Aust is forced by serious illness to return to his family in Exeter.  His failing health compels the Lady to call in a local physician, trained by one of England’s best known surgeons.  The Doctor of Physic and many of the novel’s characters in Apollonia’s 14th century world, the Man of Law, the Franklin, the Prioress, and the Wife of Bath, are familiar to us through the Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer.

When the series of threats within the cathedral evolves into assault and murder, the Sheriff of Devon is called in to search for one member of the cathedral staff who is accused.  Lady Apollonia’s suspicions lead her on a different course.  She seeks the true villain by determining first those whose motives would drive them to commit heinous crimes.  Lady Apollonia not only seeks to understand the meaning of a green man but also to determine why foliate faces, used to corrupt official pardons of the church, should remain her best clues to discover the truth of a plague of intimidation and death infecting all classes of the city.

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