Another chronicle in the continuing adventures of Sir Baldwin de Furnshill (Squire Throwleigh's Heir, 2000, etc.). The setting this time is the town of Exeter, in particular its cathedral, St. Peter's, with its cadres of choristers, clergy and minor clerks. The even tenor of its community is ruffled when leatherworker Ralph, much of whose merchandise had been purchased by the church, is found dead in his little shop. His young apprentice Elias is soon arrested for the killing, but without answering the riddle of whether it is linked to violence in another quarter, where businessman Vincent le Berwe is playing host to Sir Baldwin and his wife Jeanne over Christmas. Widowed of his first wife, le Berwe is married to a second, Hawisia; his son Jolinde, born to his first wife, is a chorister in the cathedral. Jolinde's fellow chorister Peter Golloc has died of poisoning, and Sir Baldwin, together with his longtime friend Simon, his partner in many investigations, is soon embroiled in the strange events at St. Peter’s. A second poisoning and the machinations of merchant Nick Karvenil are only forerunners to more mayhem until Ralph's true killer is found and Sir Baldwin can return to his Devon home.
Endless detail (dress, food, etiquette, church rites, etc.) fatten the narrative like empty calories, slowing a story rife with subplots and villains to a crawl. Fans of medieval history will love it; tough going for most others.