An age-old story of lust, passion, greed and murder.
Prioress Eleanor is visiting her aunt at her old home, Amesbury Priory, when a series of murders threaten to set back her recovery from a near-fatal illness. She’s accompanied by Brother Thomas, a monk who carries out secret missions for the Church, who’s trying to protect a valuable manuscript sent to Amesbury for repair. Both the villagers and some members of the religious community are living in fear of a ghost they say haunts the riverbank. Some claim it’s Queen Elfrida, founder of the Priory, others a local woman ruled a suicide and buried in unhallowed ground. When Wulfstan is found decapitated near the Avon’s banks, his son Sayer, a wild youth who’d threatened to kill his father, is a likely suspect, along with the malevolent ghost. Eleanor becomes involved in the affairs of Sayer’s cousin Alys, whose mother Jhone wants her to marry Herbert, a wealthy vintner whose wife was the suicide, but who’s in love with a glover of modest means. Meanwhile, Thomas drinks at the local tavern hoping to discover who might be plotting to steal the manuscript. When another murder brings his concerns together with Eleanor’s, both must battle their inner demons before the truth is revealed.
Royal’s continuing saga of historical sleuths Eleanor and Thomas (Sorrow Without End, 2006, etc.) and their struggle to contain their inappropriate lust is a rousing tale.