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Set in the summer of 1273, Royal's excellent fifth historical (after 2007's Justice for the Damned) finds Prioress Eleanor of Tyndal beset by various problems: the local villagers disapprove of the nightly consultations Eleanor's difficult new anchoress has been conducting; the wife of her friend Crowner Ralf has recently died in childbirth, leaving him with an infant daughter; and she continues to struggle with her attraction to Brother Thomas, a monk. Then Martin the Cooper, a brute disliked by many, dies in bed with a prostitute at a Tyndal inn, an apparent poisoning victim. More horrific murders by poison follow before Eleanor and Ralf discover the truth in the stunning conclusion. Against an authentic backdrop of medieval life and lore, Royal once again brings alive characters who are true to their period yet exhibit emotions and feelings that 21st-century readers will recognize as their own. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.