The death of an unpopular man exposes some ugly truths about the residents of Tyndal Village.
A newcomer to the area, the surly Kenelm has made no friends. But when his corpse is found floating in the millpond at Tyndal Priory, Prioress Eleanor and her friend Crowner Ralf join forces to find the guilty party. Most of the villagers have already picked out the killer: Jacob ben Asser, who, with his very pregnant wife and mother-in-law, is awaiting the birth of their child in a local stable. In 1276, King Edward I, having found an Italian source for money lending, has bled the Jewish population dry and restricted their habits to certain areas. Jacob had been on his way to one of the areas when he was forced to stop. Harassed by the villagers stirred up by the baker, whose son is asking to join the priory, they are protected by the crowner and his staff. In the search for the killer, Eleanor looks closer to home at Brother Gwydo, the newest member of the priory, a mysterious but seemingly gentle beekeeper. When he is also killed, she must continue her search. Only the intervention of Brother Thomas saves the Jewish family when he explains to the skeptical and ignorant mob that the church and the pope have forbidden Christians to persecute or kill Jews. The prioress and the crowner must use the time his speech has bought to solve the murders before the town explodes in senseless hatred.
Royal’s ninth (A Killing Season, 2011, etc.), though certainly not her best mystery, includes some fascinating historical information that may come as a surprise to many readers.