May 1283. The roads near Tyndal Priory are filled with happy pilgrims, but not all is joyful with Prioress Eleanor's loved ones. Signy, the innkeeper, is quarreling with her suddenly rebellious foster son, Nute. Brother Thomas remains distant and morose after the events in the last book. Gytha, Crowner Ralf's wife, suffers failing health while her husband is hunting smugglers on the remote North Sea coast.
Before she can bring comfort and advice, a pilgrim is murdered just outside the priory walls. This is the king's jurisdiction. She has no authority to investigate, but she knows something must be done in the crowner's absence before the killer vanishes into the crowds.
Is it too late? Will this be the first murderer she cannot bring to justice?