A Choir of Crows (An Owen Archer Mystery 12)

Written by Candace Robb
Review by Ilysa Magnus

Set in York in December, 1374, this is Robb’s twelfth Owen Archer mystery. On a snowy evening, three men are murdered, one of whom, Ronan, is a vicar despised by many. But whether Ronan was the actual target of the murderer is at the crux of Owen’s investigation as captain of the City and Prince Edward’s man.

An entangled web of mysteries proceeds from that one crime: who is the young woman, dressed as a man, singing angelically in the minster that night? How is Ambrose Coates, a court musician from the French court involved, and is he, indeed, a French spy? Added to these local issues is the looming enthronement of the detestable Alexander Neville to replace Owen’s now-deceased friend, Archbishop Thoresby. As York becomes the focus of Neville and Percy politics, Owen, his wife, healer Dame Lucie, their children and friends must weed their way through a complex maze of subplots featuring spies, murderers and hangers on to the powerful families.

As always, the characters are fully fleshed out by Robb and the plots and subplots carefully intertwined. One-eyed Owen listens carefully to that frisson in his lost eye, recognizing who is trustworthy and who is not. An intricate and delightful entry—but as Robb advises in her Note, one that is better read after other installments.