That Nelda Roundheels had been murdered would have been of little interest to anyone—except that her body turned up in the bishop of Winchester's bedchamber with a letter to the bishop, from the king's most important enemy, rolled up in her breastband. The bishop and his knight, Sir Bellamy of Itchen, realize immediately that the purpose of putting the body in Winchester's bedchamber is to embarrass and discredit the bishop. And the reason for this attack on Winchester is his calling of a convocation to chastise the king for acting high-handedly against the bishop of Salisbury. Had the king himself ordered this outrage? Had the king's favorite, Waleran de Meulan, ordered it? Unfortunately the answer is not so simple to find; there are many other noblemen who want the king's favor and might attack Winchester to get it.
To save Winchester's reputation it is urgently necessary to discover who killed the woman and who placed her in Winchester's bedchamber. Bell, to his mingled joy and distress, is ordered to ask Magdalene la Batarde, whoremistress of the Old Priory Guesthouse, once his lover but now estranged, to help him solve the mystery.