Arriving home from a pilgrim voyage, Sister Fidelma is told that her faithful Saxon companion, Brother Eadulf, is under sentence of death for the murder of a young girl. She hastens to the capital of Laigin, where he is being held, determined to appeal against the sentence. The crime took place at the abbey of Fearna where Fidelma clashes with the equally strong-willed but sinister Abbess Fainder. The evidence against Eadulf seems overwhelming. Is it conceivable that Eadulf is actually guilty? Fidelma has little time to discover the truth for the King of Laigin is determined to make Eadulf an example: Eadulf is due to be hanged. Will Fidelma's emotional involvement blind her in her desperate search for the truth?