It is 1471. Kathryn Swinbrooke, an accomplished physician, is asked to investigate a recent plague of rats in Canterbury. But Kathryn is not in Canterbury more than a brief time before she is asked to act as “devil’s advocate,” investigating purported miracles surrounding a beatified friar. Is the friar a saint? Or is something more sinister afoot?
C.L. Grace (a pseudonym for Paul Doherty) lovingly develops Kathryn in this, the fifth Swinbrooke mystery. Kathryn is so admired for her medical and investigative abilities that she rubs shoulders with the highest and mightiest in the realm, including Henry VI and his coterie. Although the mysteries are of local vintage, they have far-reaching impact.
Grace has created a character both complex and evolving. She is a strong woman, not afraid to voice her opinions, but she is also a tender woman with needs and desires. As always, too, the author does his historical homework. I was particularly interested in Kathryn’s ability to move in and out of society as a female physician and the advances of medieval medicine. Storyline, character development and historical tidbits are interwoven flawlessly. This is well worth the read, entertaining and chock full of fun facts.