Baron Herbert's return from crusade should have been a joyous occasion. Instead, he grows increasingly morose, withdraws from his family, and refuses to share his wife's bed. When his sons begin to die in strange accidents, some ask whether Herbert harbors a dark sin for which God has cursed him.
The baron suddenly sends for Sir Hugh of Wynethorpe, begging his friend to bring spiritual and secular healers but giving little explanation for the request. Worried about Herbert's descent into melancholy and the tragic deaths, Sir Hugh persuades his sister, Prioress Eleanor of Tyndal Priory, to accompany him as well as a respected physician, Master Gamel. Although he is pleased when the prioress brings her healer, Sister Anne, he is dismayed to find Brother Thomas included, a man he has reason to despise.
Perhaps there is a malign presence at this storm-blasted castle, oddly named Doux et Dur. Tensions spark among family members and soon between those who came to help. Death's scythe harvests more victims, and it is not long before Ecclesiastes' grim words seem all too apt: there is a season for everything under heaven, including a time to kill.
But is there also a time to heal?
"Starred Review. While the murderer's identity may surprise few, the rich atmosphere and well-drawn characters make this a superior historical." - Publishers Weekly
"Royal's 13th-century mysteries (Valley of Dry Bones (2010), etc) are always full of historical detail but, as in this case, often telegraph the evildoer early in the story." - Kirkus Reviews
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Priscilla Royal has a degree in World Literature from San Francisco State University, where she discovered the beauty of medieval literature. She is a theater fan as well as reader of history, mysteries, and fiction of lesser violence. She lives in Northern California and belongs to the California Writers Club and Sisters in Crime.
Priscilla grew up in British Columbia and until 2000, she worked for the Federal government in a variety of positions, all of which provided a wonderful education in the complexity of human experience and motivation.
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