When an unpopular villager is poisoned, the Prioress of Tyndal Priory once more puts her sleuthing skills to good use.
Prioress Eleanor has a lot on her mind. She’s discovered that Brother Thomas, the man she loves, is a spy for the church; that her new anchoress is being criticized for receiving visitors at night; and that her old friend Crowner Ralf has returned home with a baby after the death of his wife. When cordially disliked Martin the Cooper is found poisoned in the bed of his whore Ivetta, Ralf believes that she’s the best suspect, even though Martin’s old friends Will and Hob, a pair of blacksmiths, and Signy, the innkeeper’s niece, all had motive and opportunity as well. Because Ralf’s rough manner alienates the witnesses, Eleanor takes on the task of interviewing the women while Sister Anne, a former apothecary, identifies the poison as yew. Another poisoning deepens the mystery, reminding Eleanor that she must set her own troubles aside to discover the killer.
Historical exposition and theological musings overwhelm the mystery in Royal’s latest slice of life from 13th-century England (Sorrow Without End, 2007, etc.).