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The bishop in charge of affairs at the Lateran Palace suspects a political motive and is wary of charging someone without independent evidence. So he asks Sister Fidelma of the Celtic Church to look into Wighard's death. Fidelma (an advocate of the Brehon Court), working with Brother Eadulf of the Roman Church, quickly finds herself with very few clues, too many motives, a trail strewn with bodies--and very little time before the killer strikes again.
When the Abbess Etain, a leading speaker for the Celtic church, is found murdered, suspicion falls upon the Roman faction. In order to diffuse the tensions that threaten to erupt into civil war, Oswy turns to Sister Fidelma of the Celtic Church (Irish and an advocate for the Brehon Court) and Brother Eadulf of the Roman church (from east Anglia and of a family of hereditary magistrates) to find the killer. But as further murders occur and a treasonous plot against Oswy matures, Fidelma and Eadulf soon find themselves running out of time.