A septuagenarian recalls his youth, when, in 1471, he quit the Benedictines (no calling), became a chapman (a wandering peddler), and discovered his affinity for detective work. A lusty romantic interlude leads him to a grieving alderman's house in Bristol, where Clement Weaver, the son, is missing--he accompanied his sister to London to shop and disappeared right down the lane from the Crossed Hands Inn. Six months later, Roger the Chapman is in Canterbury and hears of two other disappearances near the Crossed Hands Inn--that of Sir Richard Mallory and his servant. Are the incidents connected? Does royal politics have a hand in it? Roger hies to London and the pub across the way, the Baptist's Head, where he mentions his sleuthing to Thomas the innkeeper. Soon he's tailed and thwacked, rescuing a damsel locked away in the upper rooms of the Crossed Hands, and incurring royal indebtedness for it, but still in a dither as to the disappearances. It takes some drugged wine and an excursion to the cellar for Roger, the guard, and another inn patron to uncover the scheme and corral the perpetrators. Charming period piece: the scenery, occupations, and finery are medieval, but the foibles are of a contemporary nature. A strong debut.