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Justice for the Damned: a Medieval Mystery (Medieval Mysteries) Hardcover – June 15, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews
Book 4 of 11 in the Medieval Mystery Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Prioress Eleanor of Tyndal is recuperating from a life-threatening illness at the start of Royal's riveting fourth medieval mystery (after 2006's Sorrow Without End), but she brightens at an assignment from her aunt Beatrice, director of novices at Amesbury Priory, who asks her to investigate a ghost people claim has begun haunting Amesbury. When a local man is found beheaded, Eleanor realizes she's dealing with a human killer, not an otherworldly spirit. Meanwhile, a thief may be trying to steal a valuable illuminated manuscript from the priory. In a fascinating subplot, a handsome young monk, Thomas, hunts down the manuscript thief. Though committed to celibacy, 22-year-old Eleanor develops quite a crush on Thomas, who struggles with homosexual longings. The author subtly treats the erotic charge surrounding Eleanor and Thomas while shedding light on 13th-century understandings of sexuality. Royal draws together the murder, the manuscript and the ghost in an unexpected conclusion. (June)
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Review

"Prioress Eleanor of Tyndal is recuperating from a life-threatening illness at the start of Royal's riveting fourth medieval mystery (after 2006'sSorrow Without End ), but she brightens at an assignment from her aunt Beatrice, director of novices at Amesbury Priory, who asks her to investigate a ghost people claim has begun haunting Amesbury. When a local man is found beheaded, Eleanor realizes she's dealing with a human killer, not an otherworldly spirit. Meanwhile, a thief may be trying to steal a valuable illuminated manuscript from the priory. In a fascinating subplot, a handsome young monk, Thomas, hunts down the manuscript thief. Though committed to celibacy, 22-year-old Eleanor develops quite a crush on Thomas, who struggles with homosexual longings. The author subtly treats the erotic charge surrounding Eleanor and Thomas while shedding light on 13th-century understandings of sexuality. Royal draws together the murder, the manuscript and the ghost in an unexpected conclusion.(June)" --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"An age-old story of lust, passion, greed and murder.



Prioress Eleanor is visiting her aunt at her old home, Amesbury Priory, when a series of murders threaten to set back her recovery from a near-fatal illness. She's accompanied by Brother Thomas, a monk who carries out secret missions for the Church, who's trying to protect a valuable manuscript sent to Amesbury for repair. Both the villagers and some members of the religious community are living in fear of a ghost they say haunts the riverbank. Some claim it's Queen Elfrida, founder of the Priory, others a local woman ruled a suicide and buried in unhallowed ground. When Wulfstan is found decapitated near the Avon's banks, his son Sayer, a wild youth who'd threatened to kill his father, is a likely suspect, along with the malevolent ghost. Eleanor becomes involved in the affairs of Sayer's cousin Alys, whose mother Jhone wants her to marry Herbert, a wealthy vintner whose wife was the suicide, but who's in love with a glover of modest means. Meanwhile, Thomas drinks at the local tavern hoping to discover who might be plotting to steal the manuscript. When another murder brings his concerns together with Eleanor's, both must battle their inner demons before the truth is revealed.



Royal's continuing saga of historical sleuths Eleanor and Thomas (Sorrow Without End, 2006, etc.) and their struggle to contain their inappropriate lust is a rousing tale." --Kirkus Reviews
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Product Details

  • Series: Medieval Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press; 1 edition (June 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590583302
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590583302
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,706,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The midevil background to this mystery enhances the tension. The theme could be in any time period
but for those history buffs this book is not to be missed. The author captures the perceptions of God, His
rules, etc of the church hierarchy and the fears of the everyday people about heaven, hell and pergatory
Well meaning nuns and monks contributed to the sense of doom the populace felt. The central characters,Thomas,
a monk ,and Ellenor the young head of an abby, are kind and benevolent. The sexual attraction she feels for Thomas is heartbreaking a
s she feels so guilty for her desire. Thomas on the otherhand wrestles with his attraction to other men.
I recommend this book with five stars
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Medieval Mystery # 4

Slowly recovering from a nearly fatal illness, Prioress Eleanor finds herself interested in a suddenly appearing local ghost. When the ghost's appearance turns murderous, she and Brother Thomas step up their investigating, trying to prevent additional deaths.

Interesting if obvious plotline and side stories, and a truly impressive presentation of post-illness attitudes and medieval beliefs about the final judgment, but Royal is still harping on Eleanor's lust for Thomas and Thomas' homosexual longings. It's the old man-and-woman-can't-work-together-without-being-attracted line that I find extremely irritating; it just takes up space without advancing the storyline. The title was perfect.
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This is a well-mannered tale of treachery in a religious setting in the 13th century. We have no record of the speech of "everyday" people of that time. The characters in this book are remarkably well-spoken, calm and reasonable (excepting when drunk one presumes) but there's a real murder mystery here to solve. There's also a real sense of place and time and conventions of the day. The description of life in an abbey, and in a town closely associated with religious houses seems grounded in serious research and I enjoyed Royal's notes at the end of the book as much as I did the story.
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My feelings are the same on each of the books in this series, so this review goes beyond this particular episode. I am reading them in order, which indicates I am enjoying them overall. Please note these really are not "whodoneits" as it's always very clear to me who the murderer is as soon as that character appears. They are also not excellent examples of historical mysteries, but they are OK. (A good example of the genre would be Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael series.) I will say they are poorly edited (I wonder if they are self-published - I'm reading them on my Kindle, so would have to take the additional steps to locate that information and just haven't done so). Yes, there are typos in them, but there is also alot of redundancy. With good editing, these books would be half their length - and they are already pretty short. However, as the books have been reasonably priced - $4.99 - I am willing to pay that. They are not worth a penny more, though.
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Prioress Eleanor and her companions, Sister Anne and Brother Thomas, have traveled to Amesbury, site of another house of the Fontevraud order, unusual in its structure that allows both women and men to live in the same priory, under the guidance of a female nun. Eleanor, recently recovered from a life-threatening illness, wishes to confer with her aunt, the nun who raised her after her mother died; Thomas has come on another secret mission: to protect the Amesbuty Psalter from theft. Seeking information, Thomas lives a dangerous life, visiting the town's tavern/brothel, seeking to discover the source of the threat. When a member of the town is grotesquely killed, the search for the killer becomes a priority for both. Members of the town and the abbey have witnessed visions of a dead queen who threatens ruin, and Eleanor becomes involved in resolving the mystery and keeping the priory safe.
Once again, Ms Royal has succeeded in creating a rich tapestry of life in medieval England. Along with details of daily life in the village, she continues to develop the major characters and adds in a new threat to Thomas' secret life. This is a very enjoyable novel: sit back, relax, and enjoy.
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By A Customer on June 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In the winter of 1271 Prioress Eleanor was ill and almost died by the spring. She returns to Amesbury Priory where she took her vows. Deep dark gloomy thoughts drown her and it is hoped that a change of scenery will bring her back to life. Accompanying her is Brother Thomas but he is on a secret mission from his spy master.

Thomas's job is go find the manuscript thief who would steal the priceless Psalter. Both become involved in the lives of the people who depend on the abbey for their livelihood. On her way to visit a widow, Eleanor comes across the headless body of Eulfalow. It is said the abbey and the surrounding area is haunted by the ghost of Queen Elfrida who died at the abbey in the tenth century or the ghost of Eda, a woman who drowned in the river and was buried in unconsecrated ground because the verdict of her death was suicide. A monk guarding the Psalter is killed by the supposed "ghost". These new deaths are linked and it is up to Thomas and Eleanor to find and discover who and why.

Priscilla Royal writes some of the best medieval mysteries on the market today. Readers of Judith Tarr and Sharon Kay Penman will enjoy this medieval mystery that brings to life a bygone era when the church was all powerful and denizens from hell are believed to be walking the earth. The audience gets a glimpse as well of the merchant class and how the leaders of the abbeys live. However, as vivid as all that is, the investigation by Thomas and Eleanor make for exciting thirteenth century whodunit worthy of an Agatha Award nomination.

Harriet Klausner
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