Friday, November 4, 2011

Review of A Spy for the Redeemer by Candace Robb

The seventh novel in Candace Robb’s Owen Archer series, A Spy for the Redeemer, is an extension of the story in A Gift of Sanctuary. Owen is still in his home country of Wales after the death of his father-in-law after the conclusion of his pilgrimage.

His wife Lucie remains in York with little communication from him and left wondering when he will return. Brother Michaelo, who accompanied Sir Robert and Owen on their pilgrimage to St. David’s, has returned and given Lucie the sad news of her father’s passing. But she is reassured that Sir Robert completed his quest and died in peace.

Owen longs to return to his family but he has commissioned a tomb for Sir Robert. Before it can be completed, the mason dies of an apparent suicide. Owen soon discovers it was murder. The ambitious, unscrupulous bishop of St. David’s charges Owen to find out who murdered the mason, fearing a connection with a Welsh leader with sympathies with the French king, against Edward III.

Lucie is dealing with problems of her own. Since her father’s death, she is the heir of his substantial estate. A local busybody has accused Lucie of negligence that nearly cost her life. And York is rife with rumors that Owen may be tempted to stay in Wales forever. During a visit to her father’s home, the manor is attacked and Lucie suspects someone inside the estate may be in cahoots with the raiders. Without Owen and not knowing if he’ll ever return, she turns to good-looking and recently widowed Roger Moreton and his handsome, mysterious steward Harold Galfrey.

What made A Gift of Sanctuary an intriguing read is the amazing depiction of Owen’s internal conflict concerning his loyalty to his king and duke, and to his people, suffering at the hands of the English. In A Spy for the Redeemer, Owen still struggles with those questions, but his love for Lucie and missing her after all this time adds another element to the mix, muddling his thoughts even more.

Lucie is also conflicted in her faithfulness to Owen and the very present Roger Moreton and Harold Galfrey. Her adopted son jasper feels she is becoming too close to them and Lucie is shocked when she realizes he may be right.

At some points, both mysteries, the murder of the masoner and the conspirator inside Sir Robert’s estate, become muddled and confusing. It’s difficult to see who’s loyalties lie where as Owen seems to be watched and questioned by everyone including his own men.

I think I shall read this one again. The details are what bring the fourteenth century to life but for those of us not familiar with Welsh history, they can be confusing and cloud the story. Still I’d recommend this to any mystery fan.  It's certainly good enough to read a second time!

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