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Girl in a Red Tunic
A Hawkenlye Abbey Mystery #8

by Alys Clare

      After seeing that the ransom for Richard the Lionheart has been safely guarded prior to its shipment abroad, Sir Josse d’Acquin falls ill. He knows where he can be assured of a good bed and the best of care, however -under the auspicious rule of Abbess Helewise at Hawkenlye Abbey. But soon three more people have arrived and are keen for their own cures: Helewise’s son Leofgar, his wife Rohaise and young son Timus. It seems that Rohaise is suffering a mental malady, convinced that she is an unfit mother, after Timus has been struck dumb. Just as it seems a cure might be found at least for the boy, a man is found hanging from a nearby tree, and the trio take off in the middle of the night...

This is the eighth mystery about Helewise and Josse, and is as entertaining and easy to read as ever. We get a glimpse into the girlhood and early married life of Helewise, and discover some old sins casting some long shadows. Some of the realities of the middle ages can be found in here, but after some convenient happenings, there is finally a feeling that things are the way they should be, all ready for the next book. For a good comparison, fans of Brother Cadfael should find that the ambience is about the same. Ms. Clare can fill an admirably-paced novel of moderate length, with a good plot, some engaging characters, and a fair feel for life in a nunnery at that time. This is a series that I always enjoy. Undemanding, relaxing and yet reasonably authentic, it is no mystery why these tales are popular.

The Book

Hodder & Stoughton
August 2006
Historical Mystery [1193, Kent, UK]
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2006
© 2006