On the morning of a great hunt, a hidden archer bags Lord Henry Fitzalan, who used his power to alienate everyone around him—and even a few across the Channel, perhaps including his fellow hunter Amaury de Croan, the cunning envoy from Philip IV of France. When England's Edward I dispatches his clerk Hugh Corbett to discover whose machinations have brought down Fitzalan and how Edward might use the information to his political advantage, Corbett, recovering from a near-fatal arrow injury (The Devil's Hunt, 1998), discovers that Henry's restive younger brother was missing when the fatal shot was fired. Also missing was Robert Verlian, in charge of organizing the hunt and keeping his beautiful daughter Alicia, an equally skilled archer, away from the attentive Fitzalan. Soon after Verlian père claims sanctuary at the church run by Brother Cosmas, spiritual advisor to the disenfranchised forest people, Corbett receives a suspicious message from one of Cosmas's flock, an outlaw called the Owlman who's long vexed Fitzalan. Then the decomposing body of a murdered woman is dropped at the priory gates, and Corbett adds Lady Madeleine, the prioress of wealthy St. Hawisia's, to his suspect list. Madeleine professes little use for men, yet Fitzalan recently paid to refurbish the reliquary that displays Hawisia's miraculous hair—and other men visit the prioress's private home late at night.
Corbett dodges arrows and even more deadly threats while sardonically pulling rabbits out of his helm. In the end, his logical leaps reveal a murderer with a genuinely gothic, if not terribly plausible, motive.