On a spring evening in 1140 Shrewsbury, the midnight matins at the Benedictine abbey suddenly reverberate with an unholy sounda hunt in full cry. Pursued by a drunken mob, the quarry is running for its life. When the frantic creature bursts in to claim sanctuary, Brother Cadfael finds himself fighting off armed townsmen to save a terrified young man.
Accused of robbery and murder is Liliwin, a wandering minstrel who performed at the wedding of a local goldsmiths son. The cold light of morning, however, will show his supposed victim still lives, although a strongbox lies empty. Brother Cadfael believes Liliwin is innocent, but finding the truth and the treasure before Liliwins respite in sanctuary runs out may uncover a deadlier sin than thieverya desperate love that not even the threat of hanging can stop.