An unfortunate coincidence brings a disgraced knight to the attention of the king he once plotted against.
Crispin Guest kept his head but little else when he was accused of treason against King Richard II. Now he ekes out a living as The Tracker, a medieval private investigator, assisted by Jack Tucker, his young apprentice. When they attend a church service at Westminster Abbey, an explosion causes a near riot, and the Stone of Destiny is found to have vanished from its place beneath the Coronation Chair. Richard, who has no love for Guest, seizes Jack and gives Guest three days to find the stone before Jack is executed. Closer examination reveals that the explosion blew up a plaster imitation of the stone; no one knows how long the real stone has been gone. Suspicion falls on the Scots, the former owners of what they call the Stone of Scone, but Guest is confused when he discovers several groups of Scots in London apparently working at cross purposes. Meanwhile, Jack is removed from his prison cell to the apartments of Katherine Swynford, mistress of the duke of Lancaster, where his restless nature lands him in the queen’s garden and a problem of his own. A piece of jewelry has been stolen from the queen, who fears its absence may be noted by the king, since it appears to implicate her in an affair with another man. With the help of a cross-dressing friend, Guest scours the city for clues, while Jack risks his life to help the queen. It’s clear that their cases are intertwined, but are three days enough time to work out the connection?
Westerson (Shadow of the Alchemist, 2013, etc.) may not exhibit the depth of research other medieval mystery writers display, but her tortured protagonist is never dull, and his newest adventure leads to a swift and satisfying conclusion.