Incongruously, Kathryn Swinbrooke is a physician, an apothecary, and holder of an indenture with the Archbishop and the Crown which gives her the right to investigate untoward matters, including murders. This story presents her with a series of grizzly murders to solve, starting with the beheading of Sir Walter Maltravers, found in the middle of the elaborate maze next to his manor. During her investigations, which include the mysterious disappearance of the Lacrima Christi, a jewel relic looted from Constantinople, Katherine herself becomes the assassins target.
The books theme of revenge and blood feuds accurately reflects Englands civil war between the houses of Lancaster and York when vendetta became a way of life. There is solid information as well about the role of English knights forced to flee from Constantinople when it fell to the Ottoman Turks, and the massacre of the Provencales at Towton. one of the most violent, bloody battles of the Wars of Roses. Extensive descriptions of the exterior and interior of buildings, such as Sir Walters manor, the Franciscan church at Greyfriers, and Canterbury Cathedral, bring the story to life as do the earthy sights and sounds along Canterburys narrow streets and marketplaces. A fault is Katherines rapid fire, convoluted, solution to the books mysteries. Although the author tells us that the medieval method of investigating a crime was by deploying a hypothesis and applying logic rather than proof, the ending stretches the ones credulity.
This is one of seven books in the Kathryn Swinbrooke mystery series.