Three times previously, Owen Archer has come to the aid--even rescue--of King Edward IV as well as the Archbishop of York and in this fourth adventure, Candace Robb has woven another medieval murder mystery spell that will absorb you until the very end!
In "The King's Bishop," Owen, the former soldier and now one-eyed spy for Archbishop Robert Thoresby of York, finds himself embroiled in one of history's more in- triguing plots. King Edward wants to nominate a favorite as a bishop, from when he could then be in line to be named chancellor of England. But Pope Urban sees it differently, and thus the power struggle begins. This story is one of intricately-patterned designs, based upon historical fact. Author Robb, however, tosses in the fictional interests and we are off and running.
A young page is found dead at Windsor and Ned Townley, one of Archer's friends, is accused of murder. Alas, the king's mistress Alice Perrers provides him with an alibi, but the suspicion, of course, remains. Ned is assigned to accompany the king's delegation heading north of confer with a local Cistercian abbey to enlist their support of his bishop's nomination. This removes Ned from the scene, but not without complications. Shortly after he leaves, his betrothed (and lady in waiting to Mistress Perrers) is found drowned in the Thames. And as Ned and his group near the abbey, a priest is murdered. Ned is in big trouble. In addition, a priest is also found murdered. All three deaths are, of course, inter-connected.
Having a friend like Owen Archer counts for something and during the course of this work, Archer is determined to exonerate his friend, even though much evidence implicates Ned. Archer is married to Lucy Wilton, noted York apothicary, and Robb uses this scenario well to her advantage. Lucy is level-headed, calm, logical--in short, the very counter ego of Archer. It is their relationship that provides much of the human
interest in this series, as well. Robb draws heavily on historical perspective, yet has an eye on what should have been in terms of the place of women in medieval society. There is a lesson here.
The novel moves well and readers who appreciate historical ventures will find this one to their tastes. Robb's works show much research (she provides annotation at the end of the book) and she concentrates more on the personalities of her characters that attempting to condemn or condone what historically was. She also does a good job of capturing the Yorkshire countryside, its manners and atmosphere.
Other good news is that Robb continues her series--there is a fifth Owen Archer! It is easy to compare her to other medieval fiction writers, but she, indeed, has a flair of her own. Her works are well worth what effort it may take!