Hugh Corbett, Keeper of the King’s Seal, must solve a multitude of murders as he goes about his business for Edward I of England.
Hugh has sent two of his men to Paris to steal a copy of Friar Roger Bacon’s Secretus Secretorum, a work King Edward is obsessed with. Although they succeed, one of them dies in the escape. Soon after, Hugh, his Principal Clerk Ranulf, Clerk of the Secret Seal William Bolingbroke, and Clerk of the Stable Chanson are sent to remote Corfe Castle to meet with a French delegation also deeply interested in Bacon’s book, which is written in a code that has yet to be broken. The French, led by Hugh’s counterpart and nemesis Amaury de Craon, include a group of scholars who will compare several copies of the volume and attempt to discover its secrets. Arriving at the castle, Hugh learns that a series of young woman have been murdered. As the bodies continue to pile up, he swears to discover the killer. Soon enough there’s a new development: The scholars are also dying in what appears to be a series of accidents. Despite the smirking De Craon’s protestations, Hugh is convinced they too are victims of murder. Danger lurks in every frozen corridor as Hugh searches for clues to break the code and solve the murders.
A clever surprise ending awaits those who can struggle through the thicket of medieval minutiae in Hugh’s latest adventure (Corpse Candle, 2002, etc.)