A visit to a famous shrine entangles a prioress and her companion in murder and treason.
In 1277, King Edward, who plans to invade Wales, may be stopping at the East Anglian shrine where Prioress Eleanor of Tyndal and Brother Thomas are making a pilgrimage. Prioress Ursell of Ryehill and her priest, Father Vincent, are eager for them to leave, especially once Sister Roysia falls to her death from the bell tower. After all, Eleanor’s reputation for investigating crimes may make it more difficult for Ursell and Vincent to have Roysia’s death ruled an accident. The situation is made even more delicate by rumors that Roysia was the lover of Master Larcher, who makes the pilgrim badges that are the main source of Ryehill’s income. Also in town are a large number of pilgrims and a nosy wine merchant who’s asking too many questions about the king’s upcoming visit. One of the pilgrims, a wealthy widow, has kindly attached herself to Eleanor, who’s still in pain from walking the last mile of her pilgrimage barefoot. Thomas is disgusted when Father Vincent blames a young orphan, starving on the streets, for her own rape, and Prioress Ursell seems none too charitable either. Danger awaits Eleanor and Thomas, who can’t tell whom to trust in the search for Sister Roysia’s killer and a clever assassin who plots to kill the king.
The wealth of historical information and the minutiae of daily life often upstage relatively weak mysteries in Eleanor’s adventures (The Sanctity of Hate, 2012, etc.), but this one pulls in enough red herrings to keep even nonmedievalists interested.