Magdalene la Batarde is the madam of the Old Priory Guesthouse in Southwark. People expect her and her women to indulge in a number of sinful activities, but bloody murder isn't one of them. Then Baldassare, the messenger, dies. The Bishop of Winchester, who was served for many years by Baldassare, puts Sir Bellamy of Itchen, his most trusted knight, in charge of the investigation. Sir Bellamy must find out how and why Baldassare died or else watch the beautiful, mysterious Magdalene meet her fate on the gallows.