A brilliant and world-weary Cardinal listens to the testimony gathered by the Church's investigator concerning the possible sanctity of Philip of Evesham. If the Cardinal is convinced that Philip was not merely a ""miracle worker"" but a ""good man"" then he will plead his case for canonization before the Cardinals' Council. His role then throughout the book is that of skeptic. The investigator, who is himself convinced that Philip is a saint, presents the evidence of ten people from all walks of life who knew Philip at different times and whose testimony is as revealing of themselves as it is of Philip. Or illegitimate birth, the son of a priest and a noblewoman, Philip is born deaf and dumb -- supposedly the stigma of his parents' sin, and is destined for a lifetime of suffering which, it develops, he bears courageously and with great good will. In the Cardinal's view, eventually, the ""miracles "" attributed to Philip assume their proper place -- the visible vindication and glorification of the life of a good man. Set in twelfth-century England, Ordeal by Silence is an absorbing evocation of life in the Middle Ages and a telling revelation of dramatic characters.