When two bodies are discovered in the grounds of York Minster shortly before the enthronement of the new archbishop, Owen Archer is summoned to investigate.
December, 1374. With the great and the good about to descend on York for the enthronement of Alexander Neville as the new archbishop, the city authorities are in a state of high alert. When two bodies are discovered in the grounds of York Minster, and a flaxen-haired youth with the voice of an angel is found locked in the chapter house, Owen Archer, captain of the city bailiffs, is summoned to investigate.
Tension deepens when an enigmatic figure from Owen’s past arrives in the city. Why has he returned from France after all these years – and what is his connection with the bodies in the minster yard and the fair singer?
Before Owen can make headway in the investigation, a third body is fished out of the river – and the captain finds himself with three mysterious deaths to solve before the all-powerful Neville family arrives in York.
My guest reviewer, husband Bob’s, review:
Candace Robb delivers an interesting, atmospheric historical mystery set in medieval York. Though the book has much to recommend it, there are several flaws which skillful editing should have helped her weed out. Any mystery, particularly a historical mystery, should begin with a map and a cast of characters. The author comes through with the first: two thumbs up for a map of Owen Archer’s York. However, a cast of characters is missing and sorely needed: Robb mentions around 30 characters by name and uses four different points of view in the first three chapters, and that does not include unnamed clerks, musicians, ruffians, and an unfortunate “kitchen wench” who is the first victim in the novel. The number of major and minor characters that strut and fret their hour upon the stage continues to increase as the narrative continues such that the narrative almost collapses under their collective weight.
Owen Archer is a likeable and dogged investigator who manages to navigate the webs of intrigue and shifting loyalties that surround him. The author provides a good sense of time and place. All in all, this is a mystery that is well worth the time, but which could have been better.
My thanks to Severn House Publishers for providing an ARC.
Bob’s Rating: 3.5 Stars.