CONSOLATION FOR AN EXILE
Canadian author Roe's solid eighth entry in her series to feature blind Jewish physician Isaac of Girona (after 2003's A Poultice for a Healer ) satisfies more as a historical novel than as a whodunit. In the spring of 1355, Isaac's comfortable household in Spain is shaken when his young Muslim apprentice, Yusuf Ibn Hasan, obeys a summons by a powerful relative, the emir of Granada, to return to Granada. Long thought missing by the emir's court, Yusuf soon narrowly avoids a number of attempts on his life. Meanwhile, a new patient of Isaac's, Raimon Foraster, seeks medical help for his insomnia and bad dreams, which concern death by immolation. The doctor looks for a psychological basis for the symptoms and investigates a number of newcomers to Foraster's home. A fatal poisoning deepens Isaac's inquiry. A major unresolved plot thread sets the stage for the next book, but the revelation of the murderer's identity and motivation is unremarkable. The author's depiction of 14th-century Spain rings as true as ever (she's been justly compared to Ellis Peters, creator of Brother Cadfael), though some readers may wish that Isaac's ethnicity, culture and religion figured more in the plot than they do. Agent, Bella Pomer. (Nov. 2)
FYI: Roe, who's real name is Medora Sale, has twice been nominated for an Anthony Award.