A case of counterfeiting in 15th-century Scotland involves Archbishop’s Quaestor (constable) Gil Cunningham and his wife Alys in a series of murders close to home.
John Sempill has openly acknowledged Alys’ foster brother John McIan as his bastard son. Now Sempill is married and his wife is pregnant. So outspoken Dame Isabella Torrance, the godmother of Alys’ sister, visits Alys and purposes a transfer of property to John McIan in return for his relinquishing the right to claim more. Sempill’s property in Glasgow will provide good rents, and Dame Isabella sweetens the pot by offering to give Sempill’s wife and Alys’ sister some income-producing property in the countryside. But there is some confusion about the legal ownership of one of the parcels. When Dame Isabella is murdered, Gil and Alys get involved in the investigation. Gil, inspecting a brothel that’s part of the property intended for McIan, is attacked on another property containing several workshops. Meantime, a flood of counterfeit coins makes Gil suspicious of some of the craftsman. He continues his investigations in town while Alys sneaks off to visit the property whose title is in doubt. Both of them find much more than they could have anticipated.
Gil’s adventures (A Pig of Cold Poison, 2008, etc.) continue to provide satisfying, albeit convoluted, mysteries larded with historical detail.