A dutiful visit puts a clever prioress and her companions in a dangerous situation.
Prioress Eleanor has been asked by her brother, Baron Hugh of Wynethorpe, to deliver some papers and a private letter to Prioress Amicia of Mynchen Buckland Priory. Accompanied by her faithful fellow sleuths, Brother Thomas and Sister Anne, she hopes to complete her task quickly and return to Tyndal Priory. Cold and tired, she’s unhappy to be kept waiting and dismayed to hear that Amicia’s been convicted of murder and replaced by Prioress Emelyne. Emelyne, who greets her coolly, is obviously anxious to see the last of them, even trying to prevent Eleanor from seeing Amicia, who neither confessed nor denied her guilt in killing Mistress Hursel, her former servant. Although Emelyne has ordered Amicia's servant Janeta to spy on their visitor, Eleanor does get to deliver the letter and talk to Amicia, who suddenly begs Eleanor to prove her innocent. Because they’re obviously not welcome, Eleanor pretends to have a sprained ankle in order to remain and sets Thomas and Anne searching for clues. Eleanor finds it difficult to believe that the frail Amicia, who’s dying from breast cancer, could have had the strength to stab the much larger woman. Janeta in turn keeps an eye on Anne, and Emelyne’s brother, Brother Damian, who heads the men’s side of the priory, sets the innocent-looking Brother Martin to spy on Thomas. Despite being closely watched, the pair manage to dredge up enough information from the past to provide Eleanor with some hope, but she is still taken by surprise when she finally discovers the truth.
Not the best mystery by Royal (The Proud Sinner, 2017, etc.), but still a good read for fans of medieval history and anyone interested in problems surprisingly relevant to modern life.