With A CONSPIRACY OF WOLVES, Severn House is delighted to welcome to the list the highly-acclaimed historical mystery writer Candace Robb who, after a 10-year gap, has chosen to return to the bestselling medieval mystery series that made her name. Set in late 14th-century York, A CONSPIRACY OF WOLVES is the 11th intricately-plotted mystery to feature former Captain of the Guard, Owen Archer, who last appeared in A VIGIL OF SPIES – and who, in this 11th series entry, is persuaded out of retirement to investigate the violent deaths of a father and son, both prominent citizens of York. Keen to dispel the wild rumours that wolves have returned to stalk human prey through the streets of the city, Owen sets out to prove that a human killer is responsible for the deaths. Teaming up with the writer Geoffrey Chaucer, who is in York on a secret mission on behalf of Prince Edward (the Black Prince), Owen’s enquiries will draw him headlong into a deadly conspiracy – and a battle for his own survival.
Wonderfully atmospheric and impeccably researched, A CONSPIRACY OF WOLVES reintroduces readers to Robb’s eclectic cast of much-loved characters, including the enigmatic healer Magda, the fastidious Brother Michaelo, and not least the upright, fairminded Owen Archer himself, as he doggedly pursues the truth behind the shocking deaths of Bartolf and Hoban Swann. Real historical figures mingle seamlessly with fictitious: I particularly liked Robb’s portrayal of the garrulous, gossipy Geoffrey Chaucer, who makes for a brilliantly contrasting sidekick to the more sober, taciturn Owen.
Although Robb wears her research lightly, the plot is full of fascinating historical tidbits: I was intrigued (and rather appalled) to learn, for example, of the decidedly cruel practice of ‘lawing’, by which all dogs had to be de-clawed before they were permitted to enter the Royal Forests: just one of the many everyday aspects of 14th-century life of which I had previously been unaware. And the wider political machinations against which the novel is set, with the overwhelmingly ambitious Neville family steadily manoeuvring themselves into positions of power from which to mount a future challenge to the ruling House of Plantagenet, made for an intriguing backdrop to the central mystery plot.
This well-crafted mystery, with its plentiful red herrings and credible suspects thrown into the mix to throw the reader off the scent, will appeal to fans of Ellis Peters, Paul Doherty – and anyone who enjoys an intriguing, historically accurate medieval mystery.
A CONSPIRACY OF WOLVES is available from 30 April in the UK and 1 August in the US. Read more here.