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A Vigil of Spies
Owen Archer, book 10

by Candace Robb

      John Thoresby, Archbishop of York, benefactor and employer to Owen Archer, is dying in his palace, and the succession has not yet been determined. This is one of the most powerful positions available, so all the most influential families have their ideas as to who should get the job. Owen hopes that his master’s death will be peaceful, surrounded by true friends such as his own family, but this is not going to happen. Instead, the Princess of Wales, a lady formerly known as the Fair Maid of Kent and wife to the dying Black Prince, visits him. With her is a large entourage, and before the party even arrives one of them is dead. Soon he is followed by another, and it is evident that more than one plot is afoot. Owen has to find out whodunit and why before Thoresby breathes his last, and he is out of a job.

A suitably gloomy atmosphere replete with doom invades this often good-humored series, and Owen’s ménage seems like an oasis of calm in a stormy sea. Ms Robb excels at creating lifelike portraits of people both real and imagined and here are some that show this talent off well. It is a tortuous plot that gives the reader quite a mental workout trying to guess what it is all about, that nicely balances out the history, fiction and updates on the characters of a long running series. If this is your first foray into this writer’s work then go back and start at the beginning with The Apothecary Rose. At this stage in the series (book ten) the characters and their backstories are very much an integral part of the books, and reading this one is like renewing acquaintance with some good old friends. One of the better mediaeval series, and quite a treat for a whole list of reasons.

Reviews of previous title by this author

A Spy for the Redeemer #7 [Review 1] [Review 2]
The Crossed Legged Knight #8
The Guilt of Innocents
A Vigil of Spies #10
A Conspiracy of Wolves #11

The Book

Century (Random House UK)
3 January 2008
0434015474 / 9780434015474
Historical Crime /1373 /York, England
More at UK
NOTE: Not yet available on Amazon US site

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2008
© 2008