Her second adventure (Hangman Blind, 2009) sends Sister Hildegard on a pilgrimage stalked by death.
Floods and plague beset Yorkshire in 1383. Before Sister Hildegard can establish her convent, her prioress sets her on a mission of fantastic difficulty: She must journey through the Low Countries, over the Alps and on to Rome to bring back the wooden cross of the Emperor Constantine’s conversion. With a heavy heart, Hildegard accepts the quest. The first stage of her journey is eased by the companionship of her old friend Ulf, escorting Lord Roger de Hutton’s wool for sale in Bruges. But the wool is found to contain the dead body of Lord Roger’s clerk, killed in England and discovered in Bruges. Suspicion immediately falls on pretty young minstrel Pierrekyn, a known sodomite (as was the clerk). Hildegard, believing him innocent, slips the minstrel out of Bruges disguised as a squire to Sir Talbot, the knight who protects her for the rest of her pilgrimage. The journey over the mountains is perilous, and the Italian cities are vipers’ nests. Even more deadly intrigue awaits the pilgrims back in England, where Hildegard must clear Pierrekyn’s name.
The hunt for Constantine’s cross is ludicrously cartoonish; the search for the clerk’s killer and Pierrekyn’s subsequent trial are complex and satisfying. Hildegard is at her best at home in Yorkshire, but the rest of the story is worth reading for the view inside her vivid, earthy world.