Wine of Violence

Written by Priscilla Royal
Review by Suzanne J. Sprague

At 20 years old, Eleanor of Wynethorpe is young to be appointed Prioress of Tyndal, Order of Fontevraud, leader of both the monastery’s monks and nuns. Because of her age and noble background, Eleanor must gain her charges’ trust before she can make inquiries into the priory’s bleak financial situation.

Finances become less important, however, when Brother Rupert, the nun’s spiritual advisor, is discovered grotesquely murdered. Shortly after, Brother Thomas is sent to Tyndal and is selected to fill Brother Rupert’s position. As punishment for his sexual orientation, he has been forced into the monastery to investigate some vague charges against the priory’s receiver. Neither Eleanor nor Thomas knows who to trust, but both soon realize that the murderer is someone within the priory.

Royal’s research is evident not only from her useful foreword, but by the terminology and historical bits thrown into the fast-paced mystery. Vocabulary thought to be of modern origin is used, supported by a hint of etymology. The plot moves quickly and the insights into the politics of life in a priory in 1270 are intriguing. However, more description of the priory surroundings would have been welcome.

Royal obviously did her homework and will hopefully share more of it with us in later books.