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on 13 January 2002
Alys Clare brings medieval England to vibrant life, painting her charecters on a canvas of historical fact. This series of Hawkenlye mysteries featuring Abbess Helewise and Sir Josse d'Aquin gets better with each book.
In this the fourth, and best to date, all is not what it seems with a new sister, Alba. Her concern for her grieving siblings following the death of both parents takes her from her convent in Ely to Helewise's door at Hawkenlye Abbey.
Alba's subsequent behaviour and attitude are contradictory to the "Angel of Mercy" image she is at pains to project. When the body of a pilgrim is discovered at the Holy Water shrine Helewise sets out to discover the truth behind Alba's flight from Ely.
With Sir Josse recovering in the Abbey infirmary after a life-threatening bout of blood poisoning and unable to offer more than advice and reasoning she takes lay brother Paul with her to Ely. There are many twists and sub plots as a tissue of half truths and lies are unravelled leading to the final solution. Sir Josse helps towards this as he befriends Alba's youngest sister who is helping out in the Infirmary. The complex plot races to a stunning climax leaving the reader begging for more.
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on 17 January 2002
There is not a lot to add to what the previous review has said.
Alys Clare is the best writer of medieaval mysteries since Ellis Peters. Better, even, in my opinion. I have read almost all historical mysteries going, and Clare is my favourite.
Her writing is wonderful. loads of other praiseful adjectives could be used, but they still wouldn't convey how well this author writes.
She also draws excellent characters. they ring true, and make great heroes for her series.
The brilliant originality of her plots is one of the things which sets her apart from her fellow writers. I have yet to find a cliche, over-used plot device, in any of her books. They are incomparable due to their originality.
there is little left to say about her. Apart that if you don't read her, you're missing out on a wonderful literary experience.
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on 9 March 2012
In this, the fourth of the engaging Hawkenlye mystery series, it is Abbess Helewise who takes centre-stage throughout in her search for answers to a strange nun's past and a sudden murder at her own gates. With faithful friend and knight, Sir Josse D'Aquin lying seriously ill in her infirmary after a bout of blood poisoning that almost took his life, it is up to the combined efforts of Helewise and the faithful Brother Saul to journey into the flatlands of Cambridgeshire and the dangerous and mystical Fens to discover the past life of a troublesome, disturbed nun who arrived on her doorstep begging sanctuary for herself and her two younger sisters. It is not only that both younger girls do not seem at all fitted to the cloister, but also that they clearly hide secrets, and are patently afraid of their elder. What are they all running from? And why do none of their stories tally? The search for the truth will take Helewise and her henchmen into strange territory and the arms of the mysterious Knights Templar before they can put the pieces back together and try to save some souls...

Less murder mystery than medieval adventure in my eyes, this is still a great read, written in Alys Clare's wonderful way, that simply keeps you turning pages! The relationship between Helewise and her knight Josse is wonderfully endearing, both characters engaging in their own right, as are some of the others featured here, such as lovely Brother Saul and the indomitable Sister Euphemia, infirmarian. Sit back, let yourself be taken through time to King Richard Lionheart's England and enjoy...!
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on 24 January 2013
Having read The Enchanter's Forest I had to buy the next book in this Hawkenlye series and in future think I'll buy them 2 at a time. This one was a little darker but again really well-written with a tale that had me hooked from start to finish. Her descriptions are so vivid you feel the cold and darkness and you are immersed in their world completely. This is my kind of book, a medieval mystery with interesting characters and a wonderful feel for the period. I may even have to buy a Kindle (something I have held out against as I love REAL books) just to read the first few books in the series to find out how the relationship all started.
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Alys Clare's novels are like a breath of fresh air. I love medieval murder mysteries and there are certainly a lot of them about (thank goodness), but the authors books breathe new life into the period and her will they won't they situation with Helewise and Sir Josse, holds the reader's attention as well. Don't be swayed into thinking that these books are written with the female reader in mind. They are for everybody, young and old, male or female. Alys Clare lives in Kent where the Hawkenlye mysteries are set.

The peace and quiet of the Abbey at Hawkenlye has been disturbed by the arrival of a new nun and her two young sisters. They have been recently orphaned and Alba the eldest has had to give up her post at a convent in Ely to get her sisters as far away as possible from the scene of their grief.

However Helewise, the Abbess at Hawkenlye is not sure that the gesture is solely for the benefit of the young girls, after all Alba is known by all to be a mean-minded young woman. Helewise's anxiety is increased when her friend Sir Josse is brought to the Abbey half dead from blood poisoning. Then a body is discovered and one of the sisters goes missing. Helewise sets off the Ely to discover the real reason for Alba leaving the convent there . . .
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on 9 March 2015
An interesting story with good characterisation which lifts it out of the medieval whodunit genre. I really enjoy the Hawkenlye Abbey series.
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on 13 April 2016
An easygoing, lovingly researched book. Strong characters and a delicious sense of community rarely found in historical crime novels. Great.
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on 22 June 2014
Yet another of my favourite authors who use history to write excellent murder mysteries - kept me engrossed to the end.
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on 23 July 2016
A good introduction to the Hawkenlye residents and characters and how they all work
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on 27 October 2014
I like these books hope to read the rest
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