England 1371. A solemn procession winds out of York Minster, after the funeral of Sir Ranulf Pagnell, patriarch of a powerful Yorkshire family, William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, escorted the knight's remains north after his death in France, but he is shunned by the family. They hold him responsible for failing to negotiate the Sir Ranulf's ...
England 1371. A solemn procession winds out of York Minster, after the funeral of Sir Ranulf Pagnell, patriarch of a powerful Yorkshire family, William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, escorted the knight's remains north after his death in France, but he is shunned by the family. They hold him responsible for failing to negotiate the Sir Ranulf's ransom. Only a few days later, Wykeham's townhouse is found ablaze. The bishop has been staying with John Thoresby, Archbishop of York and is safe. But when the body of a young woman is discovered in the undercroft, scandal threatens. Owen Archer is troubled. Was the fire an accident or arson? Was the woman left there to die or the fire intended to conceal her body? Stationing guards in front of the smouldering remains, he starts asking questions. When the dead woman is identified as a midwife known to many of the city's women, there is a flurry of panic. Owen has much to do if he is to discover who killed her - and why.
Publishers Weekly, 2002-12-23 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) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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