Not even Regent Masters of Oxford are safe from accusations of murder.
William Falconer is a scholar who pursues knowledge in fields considered daring and dangerous in 1272. His long, but chaste, dalliance with Ann Segrim leads to his arrest when she’s found murdered. Falconer’s brilliance and rapier wit have made him so many enemies that it’s no surprise when Chancellor Bek decides to try Falconer before the Black Congregation of college members, before the king’s justices can take a hand in the affair. Noting that Falconer seems oddly reluctant to help his cause, his friends, constable Peter Bullock and newly created Master Thomas Symon, join with Falconer’s mistress, Saphira Le Veske (Falconer and the Ritual of Death, 2008, etc.), to search for the real murderer. Falconer is afraid that Saphira, a Jew and a student of herbal remedies and poisons, may be accused of the crime, but there are other possibilities. Ann’s husband, recently returned from a crusade, is deathly afraid of a bad-tempered knight templar he traveled with. His brother-in-law attempted to seduce Ann while he was gone. And Ann had been involved in investigating a suspicious death at a nearby nunnery. Falconer must rally and use his brilliant mind to defend himself or risk death.
Another intriguing look at medieval Oxford and its mores, wrapped up in a sturdy mystery.