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The plague is once again making its rounds and everyone in England is tense. Even Owen and Lucie have sent their children to the country to stay with their grandfather, in hopes it will keep them safe from the spreading infection.
At the same time, in York, tongues have started wagging about St. Leonard's hospital and their money problems. It seems someone has been making off with small items as well, something that has recently come to the Archbishop's attention. And then the corrodians start dying off and it's all anyone can do not to immediately blame the ailing hospital.
The first of the deaths was blamed on the plague, but the second was a clear murder. The third, a suspicious fire within the boundaries of St. Leonard's walls. In all cases the dead had left their property to St. Leonards, which immediately cast suspicion on the hospital itself. Is someone killing off locals in a skewed attempt to save St. Leonards?
The intricacies of the politics surrounding hospitals and their services in the fourteenth century are a big part of this particular installment. I'd not realized that, as the author points out, that in some cases (like St. Leonards, a very real historic hospital in York) they not only provided care for the sick and ailing but also served as:
“ 'A house or hostel for the reception and entertainment of pilgrims, travellers, and strangers; a hospice. A charitable institution for the housing and maintenance of the needy; an asylum for the destitute, infirm, or aged. A charitable institution for the education and maintenance of the young. An institution or establishment for the care of the sick or wounded, or of those who require medical treatment.' “St Leonard’s was, additionally, a monastic house, and it daily provided alms to the poor of York and fed the inmates of the York Castle prison. ”
That's quiet a lot for one institution to be responsible for, all mostly on the basis of charity. So it's no wonder that money problems would be an issue. A "corrody," as defined in the author's glossary of terms, is: “a pension or allowance provided by a religious house permitting the holder to retire into the house as a boarder; purchased for cash or by a donation of land or property.” So the corrodians I mentioned above all paid the hospital for their services by willing them their property. Hm... an interesting wrinkle, right? Suspicious deaths and the hospital profiting in a time of need...
Readers, this may be my last official post as part of the the Owen Archer tour but trust me when I say I am legit hooked on this series and WILL be reading more! I've really enjoyed the setting - and the use of real history as inspiration for that setting and for the individual stories. I've also really enjoyed getting to know Owen and Lucie!
If you love intriguing mysteries, historical setting, and fabulous characters, I highly recommend giving this series a try!
To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.
For more on Candace Robb you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Goodreads.