When the peat-cutters came to report the dead man, Gil Cunningham was up in the roof-space of his mother's house, teaching his new young wife swordplay. They believe the corpse to be that of a local missing man.
His wife and the widow who runs the local coalmine are sure the body belongs to someone else, but then they find themselves accused of having killed him by witchcraft. And if the corpse is not the missing man, who is it? Gil and Alys try to get to the heart of the matter. Together they uncover more murders than they bargain for, and encounter the chilling secret at the heart of the mystery.