Summer Reading 2021

Looking for something to read in our second Covid summer?

If you like mystery novels set in an historical era, delve into the Owen Archer novels by Candace Robb.  Set in the fourteen century each novel gives a taste of cuisine, social structures, and politics around the time of Geoffrey Chaucer.

The first novel is set in 1363.  I just finished the tenth, A Vigil of Spies (1373), and have begun The Guilt of Innocents (1372).  (I know!  I read these out of sequence!)

While it is not essential to read the novels in chronological order, it is more enjoyable to do so because the series follows Owen Archer’s life and his penchant for solving mysteries in the circumstances of each stage of his life.  By the tenth novel, (spoiler alert!) he is married and his apothecary wife, Lucie, is expecting their third child.

His ‘adopted’ son, a young youth Jasper, begins to play a role of his assistant in solving murders.  What I like about the series and A Vigil of Spies particularly is Robb’s skill in drawing characters.  While there are tantalizing threads to the plots, the reader encounters the ‘people’ in the stories and their relationships.

There are no caricatures.  All have virtues and foibles. This is particularly evident in this novel in Owen’s Lord, John Thoresby, Archbishop of York, a hard cruel man who finds his heart in Archer’s family.

I am looking forward to reading the last three of the series this summer–

I hope you too find some happy reading!


For those interested here is the list of the books in the series:  1. The Apothecary Rose (1993)  2. The Lady Chapel (1994)  3. The Nun’s Tale (1995)  4. The King’s Bishop (1996)  5. The Riddle of St. Leonard’s (1997)  6. A Gift of Sanctuary (1998)  7. A Spy for the Redeemer (2002)  8. The Cross-Legged Knight (2002)  9. The Guilt of Innocents (2007)  10. A Vigil of Spies (2008)  11. A Conspiracy of Wolves (2019)  12. A Choir of Crows (2020)  13. The Riverwoman’s Dragon (2021)  The Bone Jar (2016)

Frank Obrigewitsch, SJ, is pastor of St. Ignatius parish in Winnipeg.

  • Esther Gilbert
    Posted at 11:37h, 10 August Reply

    Bless you! This is so practical. Thank you

  • suzanne renaud
    Posted at 15:15h, 10 August Reply

    Thanks for these reading suggestions! I am always looking for mystery/spy books, especially ones that are historical fiction!

  • Candace
    Posted at 12:51h, 12 August Reply

    Thank you so much for this beautiful review.

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