Royal’s thoughtful 12th medieval mystery (after 2015’s Satan’s Lullaby) takes Prioress Eleanor and Sister Anne, a skilled “sub-infirmarian” who nurses the sick, from Tyndal Priory to Woodstock Manor, where the prioress’s father, Baron Adam of Wynethorpe, has been struck by apoplexy during a royal visit. Another visitor to the dying baron is his son and heir, Sir Hugh. Accompanying Hugh is his bastard son, Richard. Meanwhile, Hawis, an attendant to the queen, is found hanged in her chambers at the manor. Since the queen is recovering from childbirth, Alan FitzRoald, the high sheriff of Berkshire, is keen to keep the news of Hawis’s death from the monarch until she’s stronger, and he asks Eleanor’s help in ascertaining how the woman died. Anne’s conclusion that Hawis wasn’t a suicide leads to Richard’s surprise confession to murder. Royal matches a clever story line with intelligent characterizations, while providing a disturbing look at anti-Semitism in 13th-century England. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/07/2015 Release date: 02/01/2016 Genre: Fiction
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