When Judith Perle's husband dies, the young widow bestows one of her properties a house in the Monk's Foregate on the Abbey of Shrewsbury. The only rent is a single white rose, to be delivered annually upon the day of the translation of St Winifred. But as a beautiful woman with a substantial dowry, Judith represents a target for would-be suitors, and her dowry will be even greater if the house were to revert to her. Someone, it seems, will stop at nothing to prevent payment of the rose, and in the summer of 1142 the rose bush is violently hacked down. Lying beside it, the body of a murdered man is discovered. The enquiry into this sensational crime of passion falls, as ever to Brother Cadfael.