Wise, wily Brother Cadfael, herbalist and supersleuth of the 12th-century Benedictine Abbey at Shrewsbury, is once again faced with an unsettling puzzle. A parcel of land, recent gift to the Abbey from Eudo Blount the younger, lord of the manor at nearby Longner, is being newly plowed when a woman's body, dead at least a year, is accidentally uncovered. Who was she and how did she die? Those acres were once home to the potter Ruald and his beautiful Welsh wife, Generys, before Ruald was seized by a passionate calling to the church. He has lived in the Abbey as a postulant for over a year, leaving his wife embittered and, according to local gossip, long gone off with a lover. Cadfael and Sheriff Hugh Beringar are inclined to absolve Ruald from guilt in what may be his wife's death--their decision vindicated when young Sullen Blount, a novice monk just arrived from an abbey in far-off Ramsey, produces proof that Generys was recently seen in that area. Sulien has decided to rejoin the world and his family at the manor in Longner, where his dying mother Donata and older brother Eudo preside over the estates left by the elder Blount--killed in King Stephen's service the year before. When Sullen becomes involved in proving the innocence of a second suspect, Cadfael begins to feel an uneasiness not put to rest until all the bizarre, surprising pieces come together in another of Ellis's beautifully constructed, gracefully written stories.