A 15th-century widower with a two-year-old daughter, peddler/sleuth Roger the Chapman lives with his late wife’s mother Margaret Walker in Bristol, where they’ve recently been joined by Margaret’s widowed cousin Adela Jouett. Now, however, the apparently senseless murder of Imelda Bracegirdle has emptied a neighboring cottage that Roger manages to secure for Adela, to whom he’s increasingly attracted. There’s no need to fear the village gossips, because their attention is elsewhere: on the reappearance of Alderman Weaver’s son Clement six years after his supposed murder in London—a crime Roger himself had investigated. The Alderman has welcomed the resurrected Clement unquestioningly, but his daughter Alison, married to William Burnett, has refused to recognize him as her brother. Her angry father has cut her out of his will, doubling the newcomer’s share of his estate from half to all. Equally stung, Alison responds by asking Roger to prove the interloper an imposter. Carrying out this mission eventually leads Roger to London and nearly to his own demise as he follows unexpected paths to the truth, confronting a series of villains along the way.
Though the plot isn’t as convincing as several others in this series (The Brothers of Glastonbury, 2000, etc.), Roger remains an appealingly sturdy, believable hero whose romantic impulses are resolved in this outing—at least for now.