This book is part of a series set during the pilgrimage to Canterbury made famous by Geoffrey Chaucer in the fourteenth century. Doherty has each of the pilgrims tell a story and has covered the Knight, the Franklin, the Priest and the Carpenter: this is the tale of the Clerk of Oxford. The pilgrims think they have lost their way having followed the directions of the Miller, a man with a drinking problem, who is supposed to be taking the travellers to Demonhurst Copse, where they are to spend the night. It is getting dark when they find the copse and it is supposed to be haunted.
The Clerk is elected to tell a story. He tells his companions of Ravenscroft, a castle near Maldon in Essex where several murders have been committed and ghosts of previous occupants are said to exist The protagonist is Ralph, a clerk to Sir John Grasse, constable of the castle, and the latest victim is his betrothed, Beatrice. Beatrice is killed in a fall from the parapet; a serving maid, Phoebe, has had her throat cut and her body found in Devil's Spinney, while a tax collector has been stabbed in a Maldon alley. Ralph is on a mission to find a valuable cross hidden during the Battle of Maldon four hundred years earlier and when there are attempts on his own life he begins to think Beatrice was mistaken for him and the killers are also after the cross.
Some of the narrative also tells us about Beatrice after she was killed. Beatrice chooses not to pass on to the promised afterlife but to try and help Ralph solve her murder. The castle is full of ghosts.
This report prepared by Penny