The Riddle of St. Leonard’s by Candace Robb is the fifth book in the Owen Archer mystery series. It keeps with the excellent tradition of story telling established by the four previous books.
Here is the basic premise of the book from the author’s website:
Anno Domini 1369. The much loved Queen Phillippa lies dying at Windsor, and in the city of York the harvest has failed and the plague has returned. Welcome to the world of Owen Archer.
In the atmosphere of fear and superstition which grips the city, rumors spread that a spate of deaths at St. Leonard’s Hospital is no accident. Several “corrodians” – elderly people who have paid a dear sum to St. Leonard’s hospital to care for them until they die – have died suspiciously, and there have been a number of thefts from the hospital as well. Sir Richard de Ravenser, Master of the Hospital, returns from Westminster painfully aware that scandal could ruin the hospital and his own career. Anxious to address the crisis, he presses one-eyed spy Owen Archer into service to investigate the mysterious goings-on.
With plague rife and the city’s inhabitants daily besieging his wife, the apothecary, for new preventatives and cures, Owen is unwilling to become involved. There is too little to link the victims to one another: the riddle seems unsolvable. But careful inquiries reveal a further riddle, spoken by one of the dead, that might be the key Owen needs. Three seemingly separate mysteries intertwine and Owen Archer must solve them all if he is to decipher the Riddle of St. Leonard’s.
As usual, Robb does an excellent job of bringing life in Medieval York to life for her readers. She captures the fears of the townspeople on the arrival and spread of the third wave of the Plague. As she describes, many left the town or at the very least sent their children into the country if they had the means to do so.
I hope you get a chance to enjoy this wonderful historical mystery.