I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion or the content of my review. Affiliate links within the post provide a small commission to support blog expenses and giveaways. This is in accordance with US FCC regulations.The Apothecary Rose by Candace Robb
Series: Owen Archer #1
Genres: Historical, Mystery & Detective
Published by St. Martin's Press Source: Publisher
January 1st 1970 Purchase on Amazon | Add to Goodreads
In the year of our Lord 1363, two suspicious deaths in the infirmary of St. Mary’s Abbey catch the attention of the powerful John Thoresby, Lord Chancellor of England and Archbishop of York. One victim is a pilgrim, while the second is Thoresby’s ne’er-do-well ward, both apparently poisoned by a physic supplied by Master Apothecary Nicholas Wilton. In the wake of these deaths, the archbishop dispatches one-eyed spy Owen Archer to York to find the murderer. Under the guise of a disillusioned soldier keen to make a fresh start, Owen insinuates himself into Wilton’s apothecary as an apprentice. But he finds Wilton bedridden, with the shop being run by his lovely, enigmatic young wife, Lucie. As Owen unravels a tangled history of scandal and tragedy, he discovers at its center a desperate, forbidden love twisted over time into an obsession and the woman he is coming to care about is the prime suspect..
Candace Robb’s Owen Archer mystery series is being reissued as e-books and two new books are being published in the U.S. and Canada. To celebrate, bloggers have been given different books in the series to review on the blog tour, and there is a giveaway for the first three e-books in the series.What a treat for readers of historical mysteries! I received the first book, The Apothecary Rose.
In fourteenth-century England, Owen is a former archer working for the Archbishop of York, who wants a quiet look into two deaths at one of the Church’s abbeys. Taciturn and observant, Owen immediately notices many things that are “off” in the village and the abbey. Some people seem suspicious for no reason and others guilty. Teaming up to share information with the village summoner, the man in charge of watching for people breaking of Church law, a story begins to form for Owen where the pilgrim’s death is tied to the mysterious feverish illness of the village apothecary. While assisting Lucie, the apothecary’s wife, as she tries to care for her husband and keep the business running with little support from the local guild, Owen notices strange behavior from a high-ranking Church official, people watching him, and extreme nervousness on the part of the abbey’s healer and Lucie, who may be sharing a secret.
The Apothecary Rose is a well-researched historical story with a great picture of village life and Church politics in the middle ages. Ms. Robb gifts her readers with a map of the setting and a glossary, as well as an informative Author’s Note explaining guilds and the Church relating to characters and events in The Apothecary Rose. Frequent readers of Thought From an Evil Overlord know how important background information and maps are to me when reading historical fiction. I learned a lot from the story and greatly enjoyed trying to solve the mystery along with Owen. There were things that readers knew of which he was unaware, but no one knows why someone would want either the pilgrim or the Archbishop’s nephew dead, and if one or both deaths were accidents or murders. The language of the book is very understandable, with the use of some individual historic words, mostly nouns but no historical colloquialisms that get confusing and slow down the reading, at least for me. I am excited to read The Lady Chapel, the second book in the series where Owen gets caught up in the wool industry after a merchant’s severed hand is discovered.
This post is part of the TLC Book Tour announcing the release of the series as e-books and the North American publication of books nine and ten, The Guilt of Innocents and A Vigil of Spies. You can read about the series and author, as well as reviews from all the tour participants.