Fantasy Mystery Comics Non-Fiction Fiction

The Riddle of St. Leonard’s

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Riddle of St. Leonard’s (1997) Candace Robb

The-Riddle-of-St-LeonardsSet in England in 1369

The plague has again come to England, although not as severe as the previous two outbreaks, it still strikes fear into everyone, as they attempt to find ways to protect themselves.

Aromatic fires burned everywhere to ward off the pestilence, creating a fog in some of the passageways.

‘With each visitation of the pestilence folk have become more inventive with their precautions. A wealthy merchant asked yesterday for enough crushed diamonds to strew round his bed and cut Death’s feet to shreds.’

As they led the donkey cart through the streets to St Mary’s, folk fled before them. Bess felt as if she were Moses parting the Red Sea. And it came to her that this plague with which God punished them for their sins made greater sinners of them all.

Meanwhile, there have been a rash of deaths of corrodians at St Leonard’s, and Richard de Ravenser leaves the side of the dying queen to attempt to resolve the issue. Archbishop John Thoresby offers his spy Owen Arch to assist, although Owen believes his place is in the apothecary, helping his wife during the outbreak.

There are some amusing bits, despite the dread and gloom of the plague.

‘I’ve come for more mallow, is what. Lot fell off shelf and dog ate it.’

As Lucie turned to fetch the mallow jar, Owen saw her bite back a smile. He leaned over the counter.

‘How is the dog?’

‘Empty!’ Mistress Miller said with a loud guffaw,

There is, for those who have been reading along, a death of a beloved character in this book. Actually, it’s surprising there are not more deaths, although this was noted.

Records of this outbreak are sketchy, but most agree that it took mostly the elderly or infirm and children, which suggests to our modern way of thinking that people were building up an immunity.

The old woman pulled a pouch from her voluminous robes, took out a small bottle. ‘A tonic for old bones, Infirmarian. Thou must keep up thy strength for the work ahead of thee.’

Wulfstan hesitated. Her remedies were said to be comforting; but did she say pagan charms over them?

‘It contains naught harmful to thy Christian soul,’ Magda said.

Wulfstan pressed his hands together and bowed towards her. ‘Forgive me.’ He reached for the offering. ‘God bless you, Mistress Digby.’ Surely God would forgive him.

I loved all the historical bits, and I also loved the mystery.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Diversion Books

Categories: British, Historical, Mystery     Comments (0)    

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