The most corrupt court in Elizabethan England has turned deadly.
Francis Bacon's clerk, Thomas Clarady, has finally passed the bar. Now it's time to sue for his livery in the Court of Wards. Alas, nothing is simple in the most corrupt institution in Tudor England. The attorney tries to wring a bribe from Tom, who refuses in threatenting terms. When the attorney turns up dead, Tom's the most likely suspect. He goes into hiding, leaving Bacon and Lady Dorchester to find out who really did the deed.
Every ward has reasons aplenty to hate the court and its officers. Some guardians have been keeping dark secrets from their wards. That attorney had other targets closer to home. As Tom's wits unravel, Francis and Trumpet must take on his roles in the investigation as well as their own. Clues lead them in circles. The best ones lead straight back to Tom. Can they catch the villain before the sheriff grows tired of waiting?