The Nun’s Tale is the third Owen Archer mystery. It’s 1366, and a nun, gone missing a year before, appears, claiming that she’s been buried alive. Pretty soon, other people who have been involved in her disappearance turn up, dead. In come Owen Archer and his wife, the apothecary Lucie Wilton, to solve the mystery. Is Joanna Calverley really what she says she is? Or is she simply mad? In any case, she’s a frustrating study in contrasts: virgin or Mary Magdalene? Victim in the case or perpetrator?
The story itself is slightly more grim than those in her other books; not just murder is at stake here, but something more sinister. There’s very little suspense to the mystery, but Candace Robb excels at portraying the relationships between her characters, developing them more and more with each book in the series. I liked how the author developed the tenuous relationship between Lucie and her father, Sir Robert, too. Jasper Melton, who features in the previous entry of the series, The Lady Chapel, appears here, but his presence in this book is merely incidental; I would have liked to have seen more of him.
Historical figures such as John of Gaunt and Geoffrey Chaucer even make brief cameos in The Nun’s Tale. The historical detail of the book is quite good, and another one of Robb’s strengths is tying the mystery—at first, it seems as though it’s simply a domestic affair—to larger events. It’s an enjoyable addition to the Owen Archer series, and I look forward to reading the next.