In 1137 the ambitious head of Shrewsbury Abbey has decided to acquire the remains of Saint Winifred for his Benedictine order. Brother Cadfael is part of the expedition sent to her final resting place in Wales, where they find the villagers passionately divided by the Benedictines' offer for the saint's relics.
Canny, wise and all too worldly, Cadfael isn't surprised when this taste for bones leads to bloody murder. The leading opponent to moving the grave has been shot dead with a mysterious arrow, and some say Winifred herself dealt the blow. Brother Cadfael knows that a carnal hand did the killings, but he doesn't know that his plan to unearth a murderer may dig up a case of love and justice, where the wages of sin may be scandal - or his own ruin.