Select one of the keywords
Land of Shadows: A Medieval Mystery    by Priscilla Royal order for
Land of Shadows
by Priscilla Royal
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Edward I, in 1279, decides that the Jews in Gloucestershire are clipping coins and determines that they must pay for their treason. The male Jews are rounded up, convicted of this common practice and summarily hanged. Then all their worldly goods are seized, sold and the resultant profits placed in the king's coffers.

This practice seems so reprehensible today but was common in those early years. That didn't make it right. But it left families with nowhere to go and no food to eat. Prioress Eleanor arrives at Woodstock Manor, having received word that her father is dying. Her brother Hugh, who seems to be suffering from what today is called PTSD, arrives to spend the last hours of his life with Baron Adam Wynethorpe, his father.

Eleanor meets an elderly Jewish woman, with her two granddaughters, asking to have a word with the Queen, who is in childbed. The three Jews have been thrown out of their home and all their possessions stolen because the young girls' father had been hanged.

Depriving someone of a livelihood was common behavior. But what are the Jews to do? Hugh's bastard son, fearing his father doesn't consider him a worthy man, confesses to killing a woman. Characters jump in and out of suspicion, especially when a religious man is killed. He was as greedy as any other man of high order. The plot thickens as names are bantered about as to who could be the killer.

Land of Shadows is the twelfth book in this series. Priscilla Royal is able to place readers in scenes so that they can almost smell meat cooking, hear babble from the streets, and feel the fine wool that keeps the residents of Woodstock warm. Her characters ring true and are good to read of again.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews