This book is fictional, yet based on fact. It is an entertaining mystery by Candace
Robb. When Candace Robb was a child she loved books. She promised herself
that she would read all the books on the shelves of a library. She never did it, but
still read lots of books throughout her life. Her first efforts at writing were poems.
She moved into a journalistic stage which lasted all throughout graduate school. It
was after leaving graduate school that she focused on creative writing. She wrote
short stories, mostly about science fiction, but one story was inspired by her
graduate work in medieval studies. She thought her book would never get
published, but then she found a job as an editor of research publications at the
University of Washington. Her short story wasn’t published, but she turned that
story into a novel, The Apothecary Rose. Candace is now the author of two
ongoing mystery series featuring medieval sleuths, the Margaret Kerr Mysteries
and the Owen Archer Mysteries. Ms.Robb researched a lot for these novels.
Candace read a lot of depressing readings, both in statistics and in handbooks for
physicians that were written in the period. Through many letters, sermons,
and the plague handbooks, she tried to get a sense of how the people fought to
survive with the horror of the plague. She also had some help from a friend who
was an expert on St. Leonard’s Hospital. Her name was P. H. Cullum, she was
very educated in the studies of medieval hospitals. This was beneficial to
Ms.Robb, especially when writing The Riddle of St. Leonard’s.
The main character of The Riddle of St. Leonard’s is Owen Archer. Owen
is an ex-soldier, who is now a spy for the Archbishop of York and for sometime
Lord Chancellor of England, John Thoresbry. Owen is assisted in his sleuthing by
a group of York residents who include his wife, the apothecary Lucie, and Bess
Merchet, owner of the York Tavern. There is also Magda Digby who is a
midwife. She is called the Riverwoman and goes with Owen on his missions to
solve crimes. Honoria de Staines is also a main character in this story and she is
thought to play a big part in these crimes.
This story takes place in 1369 A.D. in the city of York. Owen has been
asked by York's Archbishop John Thoresby and his nephew Richard de Ravenser,
the Master of St. Leonard's Hospital, to find what lies behind the troubles at the
hospital. Once again, York's one-eyed ex-soldier, reluctantly accepts these