Book Review: The Lady Chapel by Candace Robb

The Lady Chapel is the second Owen Archer mystery by Candace Robb.

It is 1365 and on the night of Corpus Christi a man is murdered within the boundaries of York Minster, his severed hand, missing. John Thoresby, the Archbishop of York calls on Owen Archer to look into the matter.

At first it seems like a simple enough case; the man was seen arguing with another gentleman in The York Tavern, and the following morning the dead man’s hand is found in his empty lodgings at the inn. However, the only witness to the murder is a young boy, who has disappeared, but before he vanished, he told of a cloaked woman who he saw talking to the victim. And yet, she too is missing.

As Owen tries to navigate his way through this strange killing, he soon finds that it is not only a murder he is drawn into, but politics surrounding the wool trade, and a plot that reaches the some of the very highest people in the kingdom. And where there is power, there is danger. Can Owen unmask the culprit before the danger and death toll increases?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Lady Chapel. Although it is more complex than the first book in the series, Apothecary Rose (read my review here), it is no less gripping. It was one of those books that was very hard to put down.

Owen Archer and Lucie Wilton are thoroughly captivating as the stars of the story. There is a wealth of interesting characters to be found here, two of my favourites being Bess Merchet and Magda Digby, but the entire cast are engaging and bring the book to life.

The historical information provided is detailed and rich, adding an authentic atmosphere to what is already an enjoyable and entertaining story. York and medieval England is vividly brought to life, and with ease, ensuring that this book captures the attention of the reader from the very beginning and holds it until the very end.

Thoroughly recommended to fans of historical detective fiction. The Lady Chapel (and the series itself) is a great read and I am looking forward to rereading the third book in the series, The Nun’s Tale.


Book Review: The Apothecary Rose by Candace Robb

The Apothecary Rose is the first Owen Archer mystery by Candace Robb.

The year is 1363.  Owen Archer, the Welsh former Captain of Archers to the recently deceased Duke of Lancaster has been employed by John Thoresby, Lord Chancellor of England and Archbishop of York, as a favour to his dead friend.  Owen lost an eye whilst on campaign in France, changing his life overnight, and so now he seeks a new occupation.  But how will he fare as a spy?

His first mission sees him sent to York to investigate a series of mysterious deaths and the only thread linking them: Nicholas Wilton, a Master Apothecary in the cathedral city.  Only he has also fallen gravely ill.

Getting himself the position of apprentice at the apothecary in question, Owen must unravel the complicated web that has wrapped itself around this mystery if he’s to uncover the truth.  However, learning the craft of the apothecary from Lucie, the Master Apothecary’s young, beautiful wife as her husband is kept to his sick bed, Owen acknowledges to his horror, that she is perhaps foremost amongst the suspects…And as the number of deaths continue to increase, so do his suspicions…

This is another series that I love and am re-reading 🙂

The Apothecary Rose is a captivating a novel, and the perfect first book in a series.  I love many of the main characters…Owen, Lucie, Bess Merchet, Magda Digby, Brother Wulfstan…they have depth and complexity, and their interactions bring the tale to life, adding richness and colour to an already enthralling read.

The descriptions of the people and places of the fourteenth century are fascinating and vivid, not to mention historically detailed and accurate.  The storyline is gripping and the further into the book I got, the harder I found it to put down.

I am looking forward to re-reading the second book in the series, The Lady Chapel. This is another great historical mystery series that I can’t recommend highly enough.  If the Middle Ages interest you or if you simply enjoy good, well-written historical fiction, you really should give these books a read.  I love them.