Poisoned Pen, Aug 2008, $24.95
In 1273, Prioress Eleanor of Tyndal struggles with issues. First the nearby villagers openly disapprove of the nightly visits that her new obstinate anchoress Sister Juliana is doing; Eleanor has failed to get her to understand that perceptions are everything to the locals even if the woman is not committing any sins. Second the spouse of her close friend Crowner died giving birth to a daughter. Finally she fears she may be breaking her vows as she is attracted to Brother Thomas.
However, that all seems trite when abusive Martin the Cooper, loathed by all, dies while lying with a prostitute at an inn. Eleanor and Ralf believe the bully was sent to hell via poison. Soon others also die by poisoning as Eleanor and Ralf investigate serial murders that lack a tying motive.
The latest Priscilla Royal medieval mystery (see JUSTICE FOR THE DAMNED) is a clever historical whodunit that uses a vivid background to enhance an engaging investigation. Eleanor is terrific as she realizes her personal problems seem mundane and insignificant when the homicides begin. Readers will appreciate her efforts along with those of Ralf to solve the homicides before others prematurely meet the creator.