HBalikov's Reviews > The Apothecary Rose

The Apothecary Rose by Candace Robb
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Aug 21, 09

Read in August, 2009

I like historical novels as you can see if you search my reviews. Some of the best are series by authors such as Forster, O'Brian and Cornwell. Historical mystery writers have a particular challenge and some, such as Pargeter and Saylor, have mastered it. Candace Robb recognizes that and articulates it as follows: "Writing a historical mystery novel requires the author to wear three hats, novelist, historian and mystery writer. The novelist guards the integrity of the form, the growth of the main character, and glories in the creation of the character's world, freely using the imagination. But the historian groans at anachronisms, agonizes over chronologies, and corrects descriptions according to archeological studies, from city plans to the heights of the people. The mystery writer doesn't want too much superfluous historical description to confuse the clues, has to maintain suspense, and yearns to move things around in time and place to serve the mystery. Compromises must be made in order to finish the book in one's lifetime."

I believe Robb gets it just about right with authentic characters and a plot that is, at most times, compelling. Several murders in the medieval city of York, England. A wounded archer who is tapped by the Lord Chancellor and Archbishop to investigate. The apothecary is at the center of suspicion and understanding how cures and remedies are prepared makes this mystery more unique and fascinating. The fact that women seem well-characterized with a full set of skills, insights and motives also adds to the pleasure.
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