Candace M. Robb, Author . Mysterious $23.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-89296-772-8

Attacks on a bishop and former lord chancellor of England reveal a confusing web of motives in Robb's latest to feature one-eyed medieval sleuth Owen Archer (after 2002's A Spy for the Redeemer). Bishop Wykeham has come to York to try to appease the family of Sir Ranulf Pagnell, an aged knight who died in a French dungeon while Wykeham attempted to negotiate his release. Soon after the bishop's arrival, someone tries to drop a roof-tile on his head, and then succeeds in burning down his townhouse. As captain of the guard at Archbishop Thoresby's palace where Wykeham is staying, Archer is responsible for the bishop's safety. His inquiries into the crimes are complicated by the presence of a badly wounded servant and murdered woman dragged out of the burning house. No one seems able to explain their presence in the house, nor who inflicted their injuries. Archer considers suspects ranging from street thieves to the powerful Duke of Lancaster, with mixed results. The author's enthusiastic research lends realism to the time and place, but occasionally gushes over into distracting detail. Also, her excellent rendering of characters and motives is hurt by the presence of the Riverwoman, a healer who seems more New Age than Middle Age. But Robb pulls the tale out of its muddle at the end. Alternating scenes with a growing pace and tension culminate in a welcome surprise or two. Established fans will enjoy the references to previous books in the series. (Jan. 6)

Reviewed on: 12/23/2002
Release date: 01/01/2003
Paperback - 367 pages - 978-0-09-927830-6
Hardcover - 536 pages - 978-0-7540-1993-0
Hardcover - 536 pages - 978-0-7540-9339-8
Hardcover - 517 pages - 978-0-7862-5611-2
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