England 1371. A solemn procession winds out of York Minster, after the funeral of Sir Ranulf Pagnell, patriarch of a powerful Yorkshire family. William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, escorted the knight's remains north after his death in France, but he is shunned by the family. They hold him responsible for failing to negotiate the Sir Ranulf's ransom. Only a few days later, Wykeham's townhouse is found ablaze. The bishop has been staying with John Thoresby, Archbishop of York and is safe. But when the body of a young woman is discovered in the under croft, scandal threatens. Owen Archer is troubled. Was the fire an accident or arson? Was the woman left there to die or the fire intended to conceal her body? Stationing guards in front of the smouldering remains, he starts asking questions. When the dead woman is identified as a midwife known to many of the city's women, there is a flurry of panic. Owen has much to do if he is to discover who killed her - and why.
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