cover image Sorrow Without End

Sorrow Without End

Priscilla Royal, . . Poisoned Pen, $24.95 (232pp) ISBN 978-1-59058-214-5

Terror grips a remote North Sea priory in Royal's superior medieval thriller, her third to feature Eleanor, prioress of Tyndal (after 2004's Tyrant of the Mind ). In 1271, tough-minded Ralf the Crowner, who's trying to bring a brutal serial killer to justice, prevails upon Eleanor to allow the mangled corpse of a lowly foot soldier to be laid in the chapel during his investigation. The "rule of Eve" prevails in Tyndal, where pious Eleanor resists the demands of rival monks who complicate Ralf's work with their own competing agendas for the priory's future. Eleanor faces further challenges when a knight is slain and an infirmarian (or hospital) nun is beaten and raped before the altar. Suspense builds amid a vivid backdrop of lepers wearing "clappers," a madman who chatters warnings, venal relic sellers and the shadowy "man from Acre," haunted by guilt for his wife's death at the hands of a sadistic crusader. Eleanor's steadfast faith in a merciful God must contend with the vicious nature of man in a compelling resolution. (Jan.)