Sixth in a series set in medieval England and relating the adventures of Roger, a chapman (traveling peddler) living in Bristol—a widower with an infant child cared for by his mother-in-law when he’s on the road. (The Eve of St. Hyacinth, 1996, etc.). Roger’s latest journey has taken him toward the coast, in bitter cold weather, picking up gossip as he goes: there’s much talk of the fanatical, fire-breathing preacher Father Simeon, and, as it transpires, Roger meets up with him as the Friar travels to Cederwell Manor. He’s been sent for by Sir Hugh Cederwell’s wife Jeanette, a pious woman with her own chapel at the top of a tower on the Manor grounds. Roger, ever on the hunt for customers, arrives with Father Simeon at the Manor, only to discover Lady Cederwell dead at the foot of the tower. The death is labeled an accident by Sir Hugh; his visiting mistress, widow Ursala Lynom; his son Maurice; Jeanette’s half-brother Gerard and his wife Adela; along with the Manor’s extensive staff. Invited to stay at the Manor in the face of heavy snows and impassable roads, Roger is present early the next morning when Gerard is found by his wife drowned in the freezing water of a well left uncovered. Accident? Murder? A third body, the hermit Ulnoth’s, discovered by Roger, leaves him in no doubt and with strong intimations of the killer’s identity—with the motive buried deep in the past. Leisurely, literate, and robust: entertaining all the way to its striking conclusion. Best in the series to date.