The Apothecary Rose by Candace Robb

The Apothecary Rose by Candace RobbThe Apothecary Rose by Candace Robb is a historical murder mystery set in England in 1363. The book opens with two suspicious deaths in the infirmary at St. Mary’s Abbey. The Lord Chancellor of England then sends his former captain of archers, Owen, to try and find out what happened. The mystery centers on an apothecary shop run by Master Nicholas Wilton and his wife/apprentice Lucie. Owen has orders to go under cover and insinuate himself into the lives of the people of York in order to discover why and how the two deaths occured.

Like an episode of Columbo, The Apothecary Rose is an inverted detective story; the reader is privy to the events surrounding the deaths, and even knows who committed the crimes. Unlike Detective Columbo, however, Owen Archer knows next to nothing about investigating murder, and he is constantly putting his foot in his mouth or putting his suspects on the defensive.

There weren’t really many surprises to the mystery except for motive, but the historical period was interesting and I enjoyed a few of the characters. Overall, though, when it comes to historical mysteries set in the middle ages, I prefer the Brother Cadfael books by Ellis Peters, and I doubt I’ll read anything else in the Owen Archer series.

The Apothecary Rose by Candace Robb
First edition New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993.
Kindle edition Diversion Books, 2010
Printed length: 340 pages

Deacon Nick

Nick Senger is a husband, a father of four, a Roman Catholic deacon and a Catholic school teacher, vice principal and technology coordinator. He taught junior high literature and writing for over 25 years, and has been a Catholic school educator since 1990. In 2001 he was named a Distinguished Teacher of the Year by the National Catholic Education Association.

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