"1493. 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." "The finders believe the corpse in the peat to be that of Thomas Murray, missing from the coalmine on the estate of Sir James Douglas, Gil's godfather. Murray's wife and the autocratic widow who runs the coalmine are sure it is someone else, but Sir James's steward, the officious David Fleming, accuses them of having killed Murray by witchcraft. And if the corpse is not the missing man, who is it? Gil, trying to establish the truth of the matter, is helped by an old acquaintance from Glasgow, hindered by the steward, and finds himself dealing with peat-cutters and salt-boilers, colliers and priests, and the five very different women of the missing man's family."--Jacket.