Richard the Lionheart is still being held hostage after his crusade and his people made paupers by paying the ransom. The Abbess Helewise is struggling to keep the abbey going through a cold, brutal winter fending off starvation of her nuns and the local people.
And then a much-loved person returns to her after nearly twenty years in desperate need of help. Her son. He claims his wife is suffering mental torments and his son is mute. But then a man is found strangled, dangling from a tree near the abbey. The next day her son and his family flee.
Helewise and a local Knight, Josse d' Acquin, must investigate deep into the past to the time before Helewise took the veil. Was her handsome husband and enigmatic father-in-law all that they seemed? And can she prevent another terrible murder or will the sins of the fathers be laid upon her innocent son?