A limp second outing for medieval peddlar Roger the Chapman finds him, in 1473, taking on another assignment for the Duke of Gloucester--this time, to keep the Duke's agent, Philip Underdown, safe until he can board The Falcon at Plymouth, two days hence, and sail for France with an important message for the Breton court. On their journey to the sea, two attempts are made on Philip's life. Then, alas, the ship is delayed, and they must put up at a local estate, where Philip's unsavory past comes back to plague him: he was a former slaver specializing in the sale of dwarves and children, whose growth he forcibly stunted with daisies and knotweed. Finally, despite Roger's best efforts, Philip is knifed and bludgeoned to death. Whodunit? A rival royal faction out to thwart his political mission or a victim from his slave-trade days? As Roger snoops and pokes about the manor (Ö la the pesky Miss Marple), numerous suspects abound--including an irate husband whom Philip may have cuckolded--before the downbeat, if not unexpected, conclusion. Less atmospheric than Death and the Chapman, and it takes much padding to stretch the skimpy plot to booklength.