The Man on the Moor

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The Man on the Moor is a novel by John Van der Kiste, published in 2004 and set in 1913 immediately before the Great War. ‘The man on the moor’ is George Stephens, an insurance office clerk who works in London, but regularly visits friends on Dartmoor in Devon.


One summer evening, a few hours after taking his regular train from London, he is found dead on a moorland road, at first glance from natural causes.

Speculation is rife that he has some connections with the German court, especially when his alcoholic mother insists that he was the son of the German Emperor William II, as she had a brief affair with him before he was married. It is an assertion strongly denied by her daughter Charlotte Waters, married to James Waters, a junior government minister who is worried that such rumours could prejudice his parliamentary career.

The mystery deepens when two German army officers are found staying in a cottage on Dartmoor, not far from where Stephens’ body was found. They leave rather hurriedly after being interviewed by police, and shortly afterwards Dick Priestley, owner of the cottage, returns there, hears noises outside one evening, and when he goes to investigate he is shot dead on his doorstep.