Finding home life a bit of a strain, Roger the Chapman (The Midsummer Rose, 2004, etc.) is less reluctant than he might be to make a trip to London when his services are requested by the King’s nephew and the Duke of Gloucester’s spymaster Timothy Plummer.
The Dowager Duchess of Burgundy is making her first visit to London in 12 years. Fulk Quantrell, the son of Veronica, her favorite waiting woman, had come to London to inform Veronica’s twin sister, Judith St. Clair, of her demise. Within a month Judith had made her attractive nephew her heir. Now that the lucky man has been found beaten to death, the Duchess wants his murderer found. Roger gets some help from Bertram Serifaber, an ebullient young officer in the Gloucester household. There’s no lack of suspects among the reinstated heirs: Lionel Broderer, the cousin of Judith’s first husband, who runs her thriving embroidery business; Alcina Threadgold, the daughter of Judith’s second husband; and Jocelyn St. Clair, the son of her present husband. Roger scours the filthy, bustling streets questioning family members, beggars, prostitutes and royal servants in an effort to discover the killer. When Alcina’s uncle fortuitously dies, he suspects another murder.
Medievalists will enjoy Roger’s perambulations through the grand palaces and mean streets of London until a chance recognition brings the mystery to a satisfactory close.