Bailiff Simon Puttock of Lydford and Sir Baldwin de Furnshill, Keeper of the King’s Peace, member of the once-powerful, now-destroyed, Order of the Knights Templar (The Mad Monk of Gidleigh, p. 575, etc.), make a pilgrimage south and discover that 14th-century vice flourishes just as strongly in Spain.
Once they’re settled in the home of elected investigator Munio in Santiago de Compestela, they’re soon apprised of a series of crimes confounding their host. One outrage focuses on Prioress Dona Stephania of the convent at nearby Vigo. Now divorced from Gregory, her husband, and living in Compestela, she is being blackmailed on the basis of a one-time sexual indiscretion. When her faithful maid Joana volunteers to meet the blackmailer and make the payoff, both she and the money vanish. Her brutally raped and beaten body is found soon after, but not the payment. Her murder is but one in a series of puzzles for the doughty pair. Among the others is the killing of Matthew, a Knight Templar turned street beggar. The rash of felonies is enough to make Simon seriously ill. While he’s nursed back to health by Munio’s English-born wife Margarita, Baldwin sails to Portugal in pursuit of the man he thinks is Joana’s killer.
An overpopulated, overplotted saga: not one of Jecks’s stronger efforts.