May, 1375. Owen Archer returns from London to find York in chaos. While the citizens are living in terror of the pestilence which is spreading throughout the land, a new physician has arrived, whipping up fear and suspicion against traditional healers and midwives. With the backing of the new archbishop, he is especially hostile towards Magda Digby, the wise woman who has helped and healed the people of York for many years. At the same time, Magda is uneasy about the arrival of two long-lost kinsfolk. Though they say they are seeking her help, she senses a hidden agenda.
Magda’s troubles deepen when she discovers a body in the river near her home – and finds herself under suspicion of murder. Days later, fire rips through a warehouse in the city. Amongst the charred debris lies the body of a man – not burned, but stabbed in the back. Could there be a connection to the corpse in the river?
Determined to prove Magda’s innocence, Owen sets out to find answers amidst violent outbursts within and without the city walls– but the more he uncovers, the deeper the mystery becomes …
“This is a highlight in a solid series.” Publishers Weekly
“Magda, who’s appeared in many of Owen’s adventures, is the rightful star of this tale of murder, betrayal, and superstition.” Kirkus
“Robb’s timely story strikes close to home; the fear incited by the priests is similar to that provoked by government and multimedia today. Neighbours are eyed with suspicion, anger and resentment, midwives beaten in the street, people shunned for their beliefs. Magda’s Quaker-like thee, thou and thy speech pattern is delightful, and her referral to herself as Magda, rather than I or me, endeared me to her. Dialogue throughout the book is era-appropriate and helps set the tone. The healer has only appeared briefly in one of the early Archer books, but I would welcome seeing her return. An informative and engaging murder mystery, very well told.” Historical Novels Society
“The author knows how to write a great mystery, one that keeps you guessing with enough twists and turns to keep you flipping the pages. I highly enjoyed this new book in the series and look forward to Owen’s next chapter!” Passages to the Past
“Written during a real-life pandemic, this historical mystery is set during a real-life pandemic. Life imitates art imitates life in a kind of neverending spiral. But that’s human beings for you, all the way around….this is a story about the dangers that women face, their actions and their reactions, in a world where men hold all the power, so it’s fitting that the focus of this story switches from Owen to the healer Magda Digby. She, like Owen, is a protector, but because she is female, and does not kowtow at all to the church or to any man, she is an object of fear and suspicion, an easy target for men in power to use as a scapegoat when they need one. With the return of the plague, fear is running rampant among the populace, making a scapegoat for all of that fear an unfortunate necessity – at least from certain perspectives….I enjoyed this entry in the series for the new insights it brought into a beloved character, its slightly different perspective on Owen Archer’s York, and for the way it echoed entirely too many 21st century crises by reflecting them into a past in which they fit just as well as they do today.” Reading Reality