I had the pleasure of meeting Priscilla Royal at a Historical Novel Society conference in San Diego some years ago, and have been reading her books ever since. I misheard her name as Princess Royal and wondered who in the world would saddle a girl child with that name, and the answer, of course, is no one. But what better name could there be for a writer of historical fiction?
And a very good one she is. This is the fourteenth novel in her series about the prioress of Tyndal Priory, a dual (men and women) foundation and her monk Thomas. We are long past the struggles of Prioress Eleanor with her feeling for Brother Thomas, and Brother Thomas’ feelings for men. They have settled in their skins with who and what they are, and the reader can settle back and enjoy a perfectly good mystery.
This one is interesting because Prioress Eleanor is kept captive in her cell by a sprained ankle. Unable to move around and gather evidence for herself, she has to depend on information brought to her by her subordinates. The former prioress of the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem has been accused of murdering a woman and has not denied it. She remains imprisoned awaiting sentencing by the Hospitaller Prior of England.
It is fun to see Prioress Eleanor’s quick wits work at second hand, as she gathers information and directs the investigative work of Brother Thomas and Sister Anne, her infirmarian, until the real killer is unmasked.