At the start of Royal’s taut 13th mystery set in 13th-century England (after 2016’s Land of Shadows), a party of seven abbots arrives at Tyndal Priory. One of them, Abbot Ilbert, is seriously ill. Despite the ministrations of Sister Anne, a trained healer, Ilbert perishes, as do more than one of his colleagues soon after. Suspicion that food served at the priory might be responsible for the deaths places pressure on Prioress Eleanor to identify the culprit and exonerate her community. Ilbert had a reputation as a sadistic martinet, who once beat a clerk nearly to death for having spilled ink on a piece of parchment, but Eleanor also considers that Ilbert’s prospects for advancement within the church may have motivated his killer. Atypically, Royal gives scant attention to developing the historical background, but her clever integration of an Agatha Christie–like plot into her chosen period will still please whodunit fans. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/05/2016 Release date: 02/01/2017 Genre: Fiction
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