The Apothecary Rose is the first of the Owen Archer mysteries by Candace Robb. I read this many years ago, enjoyed it and went on to read other novels in the series.
Christmastide, 1363-and, at an abbey in York, two pilgrims die mysteriously dead of an herbal remedy. Suspicious, the Archbishop sends for Owen Archer, a Welshman with the charm of the devil, who’s lost one eye to the wars in France and must make a new career as an honest spy.
Masquerading as an apprentice to Apothecary Nicholas Wilton, whose shop dispensed the fatal potion, Owen’s dark curls, leather eyepatch and gold earring intrigue Wilton’s wife. But is this lovely woman a murderess? and what links the Wiltons to bumbling Brother Wulfstan, ascetic Archdeacon Anselm and his weaselly agent Potter Digby, and the ragged midwife Magda the Riverwoman? Answers as slippery as the frozen cobblestones draw Owen into a dangerous drama of old scandals and tragedies, obsession and unholy love…
The Apothecary Rose marks the arrival of a bold and quick-witted detective in this expertly detailed, engrossing tale of medieval life-and death.