It is the year of our Lord 1363. And in the cathedral city of York, people are dying in mysterious circumstances. But there seems to be a common thread - the herbal remedies dispensed by Nicholas Wilton, Master Apothecary. The first victim is an anonymous pilgrim. But when a highborn nobleman dies after taking the same potion the authorities decide to act.
Dispatched to York, in disguise, to unravel the mystery, Owen Archer, former Captain of Archers, apprentices himself to the Apothecary. But it is from Wilton’s beautiful wife Lucie that he must learn the arcane secrets of the trade. Slowly but surely, Owen begins to uncover the truth. And when the deaths continue, he realises to his horror he must count Lucie among the suspects.
For The Cadfael Fans
Fans of the Cadfael mysteries would be forgiven for thinking that Ellis Peters was back at it, perhaps writing about his descendants from a century or two later; especially those who remember Stephen Thorne’s first rate narrations from the Ellis Peters novels? Similar in scope and dimensions, Robb’s characters have that same charm and sympathetic nature as those of the Cadfael mysteries. And the same promise of developing narratives is held out by this first of a series. It’s hard to imagine the author not being aware of these similarities, but the book doesn’t suffer for all that. A fascinating piece of historical fiction, with more than enough for the lovers of suspense to sink their teeth into. Rich in atmosphere, densely populated with colourful characters, the adventures of Owen Archer will surely charm the most jaded palate.