It is 1320 and civil war is looming as Ralph of Houndeslow rides into Crediton. Ralph faces a daunting task as Master of St Lawrence's, the leper hospital. Not only are his charges grievously ill, they are also outcasts of society, shunned by all healthy folk. The citizens of Crediton have other concerns. The murder of Godfrey of London and the assault on his daughter Cecily, for instance, crimes all to easily attributed to the conman and womaniser John of Irlaunde. Sir Baldwin Furnshill, Keeper of the King's Peace, is not convinced that John is the culprit, and soon his is following other leads, assisted by Bailiff Simon Puttock. But only when they discover the identity of the man overheard talking to Cecily before the attack will the astounding truth begin to emerge. Meanwhile, feeling against the lepers is growing, fed by rumours deliberately spread. Unless the burghers of Crediton can be made to see reason, Baldwin and Simon could have full-scale slaughter on their hands.