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Falconry & Mysteries!
What are the Thomas the Falconer Mysteries about?
Written by British author John Pilkington, the Thomas the Falconer series is a historical mystery series set in the late years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
The story is about Thomas Finbow who is a falconer to a wealthy Berkshire knight. With his keen eyes, powers of deduction, a passion for justice and for helping the underdog, he often finds himself called upon as a sleuth, which takes him from the great houses of the nobility to the teeming streets of London, where danger and intrigue are never far away.
John Pilkington is also the author of more historical series like the Martin Marbeck series and the Will Revill thrillers.
How to read the Thomas the Falconer books in order?
Every book in the Thomas the Falconer series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- The Ruffler’s Child (2002)
- A Ruinous Wind (2003)
- The Ramage Hawk (2004)
- The Mapmaker’s Daughter (2004)
- The Maiden Bell (2005)
- The Jingler’s Luck (2006)
- The Muscovy Chain (2007)
What is the plot of the Thomas the Falconer novels?
For more information about the books in the Thomas the Falconer series by John Pilkington, you’ll find below the official synopsis for all the books:
The Ruffler’s Child (2002) – Thomas Finbow is more than just a humble falconer, in the service of Sir Robert Vicary and Lady Margaret. He is a widowed father, a skilled ex-soldier and tenacious hunter. Far from the court and corruption of London, Thomas resides in the picturesque Berkshire Downs. All is as it should be until Lady Margaret’s loathsome brother is found murdered. To distract from her mourning, Lady Margaret travels to London, in search of gryfalcons, with Thomas accompanying her. However, when they reach the city things take a dark turn. Secrets begin to unravel and it becomes clear that the murder of Lady Margaret’s brother is only a small piece of a greater puzzle. Once Thomas starts to put the pieces together, he realizes that he, and his Mistress, are in grave danger. With a target on his back, Thomas must come face to face with some of London’s most fearsome criminals. Chasing the truth at all costs, the falconer’s wits and strength are put to the test.
A Ruinous Wind (2003) – Thomas Finbow, a widowed father, is falconer to Sir Robert Vicary of Petbury, a Berkshire knight who aspires to increase his status and influence. When invited to attend the Barrowhill Pleasures at the seat of the extravagant and pompous Earl of Reigate, Sir Robert brings Thomas along with him to enjoy the festivities. But no-one expected three of the Earl’s guests to be murdered, or for their deaths to be quickly covered up by the Earl himself. To maintain morale among his visitors, the Earl plans to host a dramatic re-enactment of the Spanish Armada, with the promise of Queen Elizabeth attending the spectacle. But things begin to unravel when the Earl himself becomes the next target of the murderer.
The Ramage Hawk (2004) – On remote Salisbury Plain villagers toil to get the harvest in, unaware that a murderer has come amongst them. Thomas Finbow, falconer to Sir Robert Vicary, is sent to the Plain by his master to assist the impoverished Sir Giles Buckeridge, who struggles with debts and the failure to provide dowries for his three spirited daughters. Thomas is here to train a ramage hawk – an immature, half-wild bird – and to teach the arts of falconry to Sir Giles’s young ward, Gervase. But no sooner has he arrived than Sir Giles’s eldest daughter Jane vanishes. She is betrothed against her wishes to a wealthy older man, Stephen Ridley – has she simply run away?
The Mapmaker’s Daughter (2004) – A tragic fire at one of his master’s tenant farms is just the start of a tortuous trail for Thomas Finbow – for when the body of Simon Haylock is dragged from the blazing barn, it becomes clear that he was dead before the fire started. Soon a chilling series of murders, seemingly unrelated, is spreading fear across the Berkshire Downs, baffling the authorities. Plague is raging in London and suspicion falls on strangers in the area, like the dour mapmaker Christopher Mead and the outrageous traveling showman Paulo Schweiz, whom Thomas rescues from the stocks. Thomas finds himself matching wits with a cunning and elusive adversary. With the help of Paulo’s astonishing magic lantern show he finally exposes a killer, along with a brutal crime that has lain unsolved for years.
The Maiden Bell (2005) – In the isolated village of Lambourn there is great excitement when a family of itinerant bell-founders arrives to forge a new church bell. But the peace of a summer’s night is shattered when churchwarden Will Stubbs – a saintly old man without enemies – is found dead in the woods. Thomas is charged by his master to find answers.
The Jingler’s Luck (2006) – In the depths of winter the body of a young woman, cruelly mutilated, is found washed up beside the Thames. Meanwhile, Thomas arrives in London on a sensitive mission: to persuade his master Sir Robert to give up his foolish infatuation with a notorious woman of the Court. But the Lady Imogen’s intrigues are more serious than even Thomas realizes, until he’s caught up in a bizarre series of events including the theft of a corpse, and even his own imprisonment. Thomas’s old friend, the streetwise jingler (horse dealer) Ben Mallam, returns to aid him after a run of bad luck. Together they risk everything to foil a deadly scheme that threatens the succession to the throne – leading to the biggest gamble of Thomas’s life.
The Muscovy Chain (2007) – Thomas’s master Sir Robert is charged by Queen Elizabeth’s Council to host an important guest to help valuable trade relations: Grigori Stanic, ambassador of distant Muscovy, in Russia. Not only will Thomas entertain Stanic’s party, His Excellency being a keen hawking man – he must also guard a priceless gift for Boris Godunov, the most important man at the Tsar’s Court: a magnificent gold chain with a jeweled pendant. But no sooner has it arrived at Petbury than it is stolen, risking a disastrous diplomatic incident. As the desperate hunt for the Muscovy Chain begins, a shadowy figure is seen on the Downs, sowing fear in the community. Is he the thief – or worse, is he responsible for a murder, the victim having been brutally tortured?
What should you read if you like the Thomas the Falconer novels?
If you like reading John Pilkington’s Thomas the Falconer stories, you may be interested in the Matthew Shardlake series, the John Shakespeare series, and the Medieval West Country Mysteries.