In the summer of 1189, the body of Gunnora, a young nun, is discovered on a path outside of England's Hawkenlye Abbey. This is set in the same time as Richard Plantagenet is preparing to be crowned as King Richard I of England. As part of Richard's plan to win favor with the English people, he had freed masses of petty criminals from the English jails. Now, since Richard is concerned that Gunnora might have been murdered by one of the freed criminals, he decides to send his knight Sir Josse d'Acquin to investigate her death.
When Sir Josse arrives in Hawlenlye, he rapidly concludes that Gunnora was not killed by a petty criminal, but he is intrigued by the circumstances of her death and decides to find out her killer, The story also introduces us to Abbess Helewise, the Abbess of the Hawkenlye Abbey. Together, Josse and Helewise search for the truth. This is the first mystery in this series, and was a very good mystery. The story also does an excellent job of tying in the political uncertainty which reigned in England as Richard I takes the crown.