Back in Bristol with his family, Roger the Chapman (The Burgundian’s Tale, 2005, etc.) is drawn into a new adventure by an unexpected relative.
Sipping ale at a tavern, Roger meets John Wedmore, a familiar-looking young man from Ireland. When John is accused of a six-year-old murder and theft by Audrea Bellknapp, he sends for Roger and reveals that they are half-brothers. He denies being the former page who vanished along with the loot and begs for help from Roger, who heads for Croxcombe, the Bellknapp estate. There are two Bellknapp sons. Antony, the elder, is missing, presumed dead, but will inherit the estate if he appears before his brother Simon’s 18th birthday. Roger meets Anthony on his way home to claim his inheritance. Upon Anthony’s arrival at Croxcombe, his charming but high-handed manner earns him a raft of enemies, including his family and most of the staff. The only exception is George Applegarth, whose wife was killed in the robbery. When Anthony is found murdered, there is no dearth of suspects. Dame Audrea, who’s heard of Roger’s sleuthing skills, asks him to find the killer, promising in return to get John released from prison. Once the suspects grudgingly reveal past secrets, Roger puts the pieces together and escapes a murderous attack.
Last-minute twists and revelations make Roger’s 14th adventure one of his best.