An Owen Archer Mystery
By Candace Robb
Mysterious Press - May 2002
ISBN: 0892967625 - hardcover
Historical Mystery / Private Sleuth
1370 AD Wales and England

Reviewed by: Barbara Buhrer, MyShelf.Com
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Owen Archer has just completed his mission for the Duke of Lancaster in Wales when Cynog, the stone mason who was working on the tomb of Archer's father-in-law, is found hanged. Cynog is involved in the cause of Wales' legendary redeemer, Owain Lawgoch, who has returned from France. Owen cannot leave the country until he determines who killed Cynog and why.

At home in England Archer's wife, Lucie, an apothecary, is becoming impatient with his long absence and begins to wonder about his loyalty to England when rumors reach her of his link to Lawgoch. Owen has divided loyalties: his family in England, and his powerful sympathies with the Welsh, who are chafing under English rule.

This well-researched book gives a powerful picture of 14th century Britain and Wales. Robb, a medieval scholar, has used her knowledge of the subject to blend the historical facts with the story. There is a sense of small town England and the primitive economics of the time. There is a stark description of the High Sheriff's castle with its floggings and its odorous drains. The details referring to the apothecary and herbs are informative and interesting. There are maps and author's notes on historical background and a glossary of terms which add to the reader's interest and which provide guidance.

The characters are vividly and convincingly drawn and are made human with flaws and weaknesses. The story is filled with intrigue and personal vendettas. The mystery is so well-constructed that it is difficult to solve until the end.

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