Things aren't going too well at home for Roger the Chapman and his wife, Adela. Their fourth child has died only days after being born and Roger fails to conceal his feelings of relief at having one less mouth to feed. Adela naturally resents his attitude and their bitter arguments become increasingly commonplace. Roger decides that to maintain harmony at home the best thing he can do is take up his pack and cudgel and once again leave Bristol to trade his goods in the surrounding countryside. Almost as soon as he makes this decision, he receives a message from King Edward IV's brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, summoning him to London to assist in the investigation into the murder of Fulk Quantrell, the son of one of the ladies-in-waiting to Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy, who is on a triumphant return visit to London. It seems Roger has no choice but to return to the dirty, crowded streets of London, where he soon meets a surprising number of people - royalty, servants and workers alike - who all have a motive for murder.
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