The Riddle of St. Leonard's (Owen Archer Series #5)

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Overview

The fetid summer heat of 1369 has the citizens of York besieging Owen Archer's apothecary wife, Lucie, for physicks against noxious vapors. But more than pestilence is in the air. Owen is summoned to investigate the theft of rare treasures from St. Leonard's Hospital and the untimely deaths of aging patients. What links a brutal robbery, a fatal fire, a lay sister some still call whore, and a homeless urchin who shoots an arrow as straight as Owen himself? Country lore and town gossip lead him deep into the past,...
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Overview

The fetid summer heat of 1369 has the citizens of York besieging Owen Archer's apothecary wife, Lucie, for physicks against noxious vapors. But more than pestilence is in the air. Owen is summoned to investigate the theft of rare treasures from St. Leonard's Hospital and the untimely deaths of aging patients. What links a brutal robbery, a fatal fire, a lay sister some still call whore, and a homeless urchin who shoots an arrow as straight as Owen himself? Country lore and town gossip lead him deep into the past, toward a killer with a heart blacker than the plague.
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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
YA--The protagonist in this, the fifth mystery in the series, is the one-eyed former archer, now spy, for Archbishop John Thoresky of York. The time is A.D. 1369, Edward is king, Queen Phillippa is dying, and the plague has returned for a third time. The Bishop's nephew, Sir Richard de Ravenser, is Master of the Hospital at St. Leonard's. Someone is murdering "corrodians," the elderly boarders of the institution, and the hospital faces financial ruin. Archer, unwilling to leave his apothecary wife during this resurgence of the plague, is nevertheless forced into service for Sir Richard. His mission is to investigate the murders in York. As the story is played out, Robb weaves in an abundance of historical detail. The vocabulary, life style, role of a "spital" (hospital), and the Church in society give color and authenticity to the novel. An author's note is also provided.--Carol DeAngelo, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Chicago Tribune
Well-crafted and interesting...An altogether enjoyable process.
Seattle Times
An engrossing historical mystery.
Kirkus Reviews
It's the year 1369, and once again York's one-eyed ex-soldier Owen Archer (The King's Bishop, 1996, etc.) undertakes a mission—reluctantly. York is suffering an onslaught of the plague, and Owen's apothecary wife Lucie needs his comforting presence, having sent their children to her father in the countryside. But Owen has been asked by York's Archbishop John Thoresby and his nephew Richard de Ravenser, the Master of St. Leonard's Hospital, to find what lies behind the troubles at the hospital, beset by rumors of murder and infamy. Several of its corrodians—those who make generous gifts in return for lifetime care—have died in strange circumstances; costly treasures have vanished; there's gossip about illicit liaisons with Honoria de Staines—once a woman of the street, now a lay sister being trained as a nurse. Another of Owen's problems is 11-year-old Alisoun Ffulford. Her parents have died of plague, leaving her alone on their shabby farm, but she refuses to stay with kinfolk, going instead into the care of St. Leonard's, where lay sister Anneys presents another mystery. With help from tavernkeeper Bess Merchet, niece of one of the dead corrodians, and from witchlike Magda Digby, called Riverwoman, Owen eventually finds the puzzle's complex answers rooted in injustices of the past.

Robb writes lyrically, as always, and her characters are vivid and believable. But there are simply too many of them, as well as so many criss-crossing ties and connections that suspense and lucidity ebb away. Worth reading for the crystalline picture of time and place, then, but less compelling than the previous four in this series.

From the Publisher
"Absorbing...An engrossing puzzle."— Publishers Weekly

"Well-crafted and interesting...An altogether enjoyable process."— Chicago Tribune

"An engrossing historical mystery."— Seattle Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312169831
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/1997
  • Series: Owen Archer Series , #5
  • Edition description: 1st U.S. Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.87 (w) x 8.58 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Candace M. Robb, author of The Apothecary Rose, The Lady Chapel, The Nun's Tale, The King's Bishop, The Riddle of St. Leonard's , and A Gift of Sanctuary, lives with her family in Seattle, Washington, and makes frequent trips to England to research her novels. She writes full-time.

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Table of Contents

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