Ludlow is a pleasant country town where t much happens except for the occasional murder or an attack by the savage Welsh, whose favorite pastime is the plundering of English villages when they are t fighting among themselves. Then a strange series of events strikes in what should have been a placid spring of recovery from the depredations of the Welsh - silver stolen from secret hoards in the dead of night while people were sleeping, a dead boy whom one kws found in a glover's back garden and a dead man floating in the privy pit at the Broken Shield Inn. On top of this, one of Ludlow's leading citizens disappears without a trace, and counterfeit pennies turn up in the inn's possession. The penalties for possessing bad money can be dire even when one is blameless. Ludlow's deputy coroner, Stephen Attebrook, and his clerk and innkeeper, Gilbert Wistwode, would like thing better than to enjoy the temperate spring weather, the Broken Shield's sweet ale, and the inn's other comforts. In what begins as an effort to save the Broken Shield's reputation and to recover the missing silver of a neighboring widow, Stephen and Gilbert risk their lives and fortunes, embarking on the pursuit of those behind a desperate plot to mint false money - a plot that stretches into the upper reaches of English society and threatens the throne of King Henry.