On the road to Canterbury, Chaucer’s pilgrims detour to visit a haunted wood and hear a chilling tale of spirits and murder.
During a spirited argument over the existence of ghosts, the clerk of Oxford offers a narrative to prove they exist. Beatrice Arrowner and her fiancé, clerk Ralph Mortimer, join some friends on the green of Ravenscroft Castle, Essex, to celebrate May Day 1381. In his spare time Ralph has been searching through musty old records in hopes of locating Brythnoth’s treasure, a fabulous jeweled cross an owner convinced he would die in battle reputedly hid nearby. Ralph’s research may provide a motive for murder. His life is shattered when Beatrice falls, or is thrown, from the castle parapet. Although she dies, her spirit, not ready to move on, remains an abiding presence amid the ongoing activities even though she cannot influence them. As grieving Ralph, seeking his beloved’s killer, looks into some possibly related murders in the castle and nearby town, Beatrice fights the forces of evil that seek to possess her soul as she wanders through a world of ghostly beings and demons from hell, unwilling to relinquish her connection with the living until her beloved can discover who killed her.
As spooky and romantic as any of Doherty’s Canterbury Tales mysteries (The Hangman’s Hymn, 2004, etc.), though the series lacks the cohesiveness of a single hero’s adventures.