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Renovations of a school in 12th-century Exeter are disrupted by the shocking discovery of a partially mummified corpse hidden in the rafters, and the county coroner Sir John de Wolfe is called in to investigate. Richard de Revelle, Sir John''s brother-in-law and founder of the school, immediately blames Nicholas de Arundell, a young outlawed knight. As Sir John discovers, Nicholas has good reason to bear a grudge against the unscrupulous de Revelle. With the victim''s identity unknown and the motive a mystery, however, the murder remains unsolved. But then comes news of a second violent death, and Sir John is forced to track down the culprit in order to find the answers.