On Monday, March 30 in the year 1220, the day after Easter, in a field outside the town of Hexham in northern England, the body of a young child, Alfred, is discovered -- murdered. Lord Godwin, Bailiff of Hexham and in the service of the Archbishop of Canterbury, is summoned to the scene. Alfred has been strangled, but even more shocking are the wounds marking his body: his palms bear puncture wounds, as if iron nails had been drive through them, and his left side has been pierced with a knife. Godwin reckons that Alfred died on Good Friday.
Why would someone kill a child on Good Friday? And why would his body be marked in imitation of the crucifixion of Christ? Soon a rumor begins to spread that the Jews had murdered young Albert, and a mob seizes all the Jews in Hexham, an extended family of nine. Godwin's first task is to prevent the Jews' murder by the mob, his second to find the person guilty of the horrible murder.
A disillusioned and battle-weary ex-Crusader, Godwin sets out to find the murderer as a means of atoning for his part in the crusade -- and for coming back when his dearest friend and kinsman Aidan did not. Will he be successful? Will the Jews' lives be spared? Will the murderer be exposed? And will Lord Godwin ever discover -- wherever -- the forgiveness he seeks for failing to protect the life of Aidan?