A pair of locked-room murders holds the key to a deadly stew of medieval plots.
Now that the House of York has won the Wars of the Roses, Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond (Dark Queen Rising, 2018, etc.), lives quietly in London. Supported by Reginald Bray, her steward, and Christopher Urswicke, her personal clerk, she plots to recall Henry Tudor, her son by her first husband, home from his exile in France and secure the throne for him. In an effort to win favor for his support of York, Christopher’s father, Sir Thomas Urswicke, Recorder of London and Great Lord of the Guildhall, is having Margaret’s loyal followers in the Red Dragon Battle Group murdered. Awaiting the arrival of agents from France, Christopher and Bray watch in horror when the agents are attacked on the shore by his father’s men, leaving two dead and two on the run. Back in London, another of Margaret’s followers who sought sanctuary in the church of St. Michael is found murdered inside the locked church. As she ponders her fate, Margaret plots with Christopher and Bray to protect her son and save her network of loyal helpers. A secret battle between York and Lancaster followers rages in the perilous, squalid streets of London, where men kill for a piece of bread. Margaret, who hopes to have her followers seek sanctuary, gets permission from King Edward and Sir Thomas to exile them to France. But Christopher doesn’t trust his father and knows that someone among their closest allies is a traitor feeding him information. As Margaret waits to travel with the exiled men to ensure their safety, there’s another locked room murder. The traitor must be unmasked before all Margaret’s allies are killed and her dream of a throne for her son thwarted.
An elegantly written, historically based account of evil machinations with a surprising denouement.