After a Genoese ship is damaged and in repair in the port of Dartmouth, its valuable cargo of alum has disappeared. Fearing this may affect trade agreements between England and Genoa, Geoffrey Chaucer is tasked by John of Gaunt, the king's second son, to investigate and diplomatically resolve the problem. Chaucer heads to Dartmouth with his two young friends, Ned Caton and Alan Audley. They narrowly escape death by ambush on the way and soon after arrival are deep in problems involving not only the theft but murder and land pirates as well. This is more than the simple theft that Chaucer had anticipated solving.
The characters and dialogue in this novel are very well done and believable. There are several false leads in solving the murder mysteries as well as the theft that keep the reader in suspense. While Geoffrey Chaucer is known as the Father of English Literature and is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages, his day job, as in this novel, was as a diplomat, courier, messenger, etc. to the court. There are some allusions to stories or poems that he will later write. That makes for some added interest and enjoyment as one reads. I have read one other story in this series, "Chaucer and the House of Fame" and look forward to reading others.