Someone is interrupting the Middle Ages to kill several prominent members of the Exeter Guild.
When a mummified body is found on property belonging to Richard de Revelle, the much disliked brother-in-law of coroner Sir John de Wolfe, Richard spitefully suggests it may be the work of Nicholas de Arundell, a Cornish knight whose estate Richard and his partner in crime appropriated, claiming Nick had died in the Crusades. Sir John’s shrewish wife Matilda befriends Nicholas’s wife, who has lived with a cousin under an assumed name since her husband was outlawed and forced to flee to the wilds of Dartmoor. Knowing that Richard is greedy and dishonest, John investigates, meets Nick o’ the Moor, believes his tale and goes so far as to travel to London to obtain a pardon for him. John gets the pardon and a promise to open an inquiry, but he has little luck solving the apparently unrelated murders of Guild members until a suggestion about the manner of their deaths gives him a clue to the killer’s identity. Sir John and his squire, Gwyn, travel far in their quest for justice for Nicholas, but both the murderer and rough justice are eventually found in the streets of Exeter.
The 11th of Crowner John’s 12th-century adventures (The Elixir of Death, 2006, etc.) is faster-paced than usual, with more mystery as well.