'In the crypt of the abbey church at Hallowdene, the monks were boiling their bishop . . .' This novel begins with monks but this is not the world of Brother Cadfael. This is the world of medieval quest, of castles, journeys, chance encounters with beggars and spies, of violent killings, and sometimes of unimaginable cruelty. It also a world deeply enmeshed with the supernatural, in which the holy remnants of saints - the finger of St Thomas, the tooth of St Ursula - may be a matter of life and death. It is against this background - peopled with monks, witches, children, mountebanks, women good and evil, and knights Templar or otherwise - that Sir Richard Straccan's first adventure as bone-pedlar extraordinaire takes place. Central to it all is the kidnap of his beloved little daughter, Gilla, brought up by nuns since the death of his wife.