It's the summer of 1143 in Shrewsbury, England, and, at its Benedictine Abbey, Brother Cadfael, one-time adventurer, continues to tend his herbarium and bring his worldliness, warmth, and detecting skills to bear when needed (The Rose Rent, etc.). Sturdy, sensible young Elave, attendant for seven years of pilgrimage to William of Lythwood, has come home, bringing with him William's body and a dowry for his ward, Fortunata, in the form of a locked, ornate box. The old man is buried at the Abbey, as he wished, after some doubts about his worthiness are raised by Canon Gerbert, an important visiting cleric with rigid views on church dogma. In the meantime, Elave finds William's household much as he left it, with nephew Girard in charge of his uncle's sheepherding and wool-trading interests; the vellum workshop run by nephew Jevan; the bookkeeping, once done by Elave, now in the hands of slower-witted Aldwin; domestic chores done by Girard's wife Margaret and Fortunata, grown into handsome womanhood. Within days, Aldwin's baseless fears for his job and home escalate some careless talk by Elave into a charge of heresy brought before the Abbey hierarchy. While Elave awaits a verdict, Aldwin's body is discovered, stabbed in the back, and he becomes a major suspect. Sheriff Hugh Beringer and Cadfael work hard to find proof of Elave's innocence, and they succeed, uncovering too a forceful motive for the murder, connected with Fortunata's dowry. The major elements in the steady stream of Peters' novels don't change--plots that make psychological sense; a vivid window on the everyday life of another age; a touch of romance; a happy ending with justice served, and a fine, literate style. Not for every taste, but Brother Cadfael's legion of fans will celebrate once again.