What could be more peaceful than summer in an English seaside village—the seaside village of Tyndal, for instance? A summer in Tyndal without a serial killer on the loose, that’s what.
It is 1273 and the local cooper, disliked by all, dies a most gruesome death. The modus operandi points to a female killer, or perhaps to a male bent on throwing the irascible Crowner Rulf off his scent. While Rulf pursues the prime male suspects, Prioress Eleanor of Tyndal Priory seeks answers from two women deeply scarred by the cooper’s brutality. The investigation, however, becomes mired in emotional entanglements, bitter memories, and old unsettled scores. From hovel to priory, all the souls of Tyndal harbor guilty secrets and illicit passions that keep them from seeing what’s right before their eyes. By the time reason prevails, the killer has struck again— and again.
Forsaken Soul is rich in dialogue and personal musings. Ms. Royal displays a rare understanding of the medieval mind beset with terror of demons and hellfire. Each character agonizes over real and imagined sins, and struggles mightily to discern the voice of God from the seductive snares of Satan. One wonders if the true mystery of Tyndal is, after all, which of its souls is most forsaken. It is a grim, somber tale but a good addition to your collection of medieval mysteries.