Apothecary Rose: The First Owen Archer Mystery

Apothecary Rose: The First Owen Archer Mystery - Candace Robb Though I first encountered historical mysteries through the tv show based on Ellis Peters' Cadfael, and have since come to quite enjoy those of Peters' books I have read, my long running love affair with Historical Mysteries began here, with Candace Robb and Owen Archer, in 14th century York. There are perhaps better historical mystery writers than Robb - I am a massive fan of Susanna Gregory's Bartholemew series for instance - but rereading this book takes me right back to that first time, discovering a whole new genre i'd never read before and loving every second of it.

Nostalgia aside, this book, and the series as a whole, deserves the 5 stars. It is a solid detective story where the process is more important than the killer (who is known to the reader right from the start), and the story itself is solidly grounded in the culture and history of the setting. The characters are three dimensional and leap into life on the page, with Summoner Digby playing a very surprisingly sympathetic hero's part.

The romance angle, though a trifle simplistic, is heartfelt enough to be warming rather than eye-rolling in the end. It is easy to empathise with both the main characters, and thus to enjoy this process despite its simplicity.

On the whole, a solid and highly enjoyable book that evokes the setting without overwhelming the reader with pointless trivia. As i've mentioned in other reviews, it is a common thing for writers of historical novels to want to cram as much of their hard-earned research into the book as possible. Robb handles this with such expert ease that you don't notice it at all, you just experience and enjoy.