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Medievalists rejoice! British author Clark's debut, the first in a projected series, offers careful plotting, well-drawn characters and smart dialogue. In November 1382, Sister Hildegard, a Cistercian nun, is hoping to find in the East Riding of Yorkshire a place where she and several other sisters can establish an abbey to minister to the sick and the poor. Hildegard seeks help from the local magnate, Lord Roger de Hutton, in securing a suitable property, but after someone tries to poison Lord Roger, she winds up turning sleuth. Both members of his household and political rivals have motives for wishing Lord Roger dead. Hildegard's status as a nun allows her plenty of room to move through the different strata of society. Readers should be prepared for some slow pacing at the start, part of the scene setting that prepares for later plot developments. Clark may well do for Yorkshire in the age of Chaucer what Michael Jecks has done for Devonshire in his Knights Templar series set half a century earlier. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.