December 1194 and Crowner John is away from Exeter in his capacity as Coroner of all Devon. He is called to the remains of a shipwreck in Torbay, but not everything is as it seems. Bodies from the wreck have been found among the debris and some of them carry injuries not conducive to being drowned.
While Sir John is away with Gwyn his bodyguard and his clerk Thomas de Peyne, trouble is brewing in Exeter, a rape has been committed on Christina Rifford, the daughter of a rich merchant. Sir John returns to Exeter to find the city in uproar with accusations flying around from the families involved. Then just before she is due to be married Lady Adele de Courcy is found dead underneath a pile of rubbish in the poorest part of the City. She also appears to have suffered a sexual attack. Suddenly Sir John has most of the influential people of Exeter banging on his door for justice.
The common factor in both killings appears to be the silversmith, Godfrey Fitzosbern, who by chance is Crowner John's next door neighbour. Can john protect the man until the truth emerges . . .
Bernard Knight is a consummate writer of the medieval novel and this is as good as any he has written.