A Fox in the Fold

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Pub Date 04 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 30 Sep 2022

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Owen Archer suspects an old adversary is on his tail as he seeks to solve the mystery surrounding a dead body found on the road to York.

"A standout . . . Robb reinforces her place among the top writers of medieval historicals" - Publishers Weekly Starred Review 

October, 1376. Owen Archer is summoned by sheriff Sir Ralph Hastings regarding a stripped and bloodied body discovered on the road north to York. Could it be connected to an attack on a carter and his labourers who were transporting stone destined for St Clement's Priory? The carter fled, but his men stayed to fight and are now missing. Is the victim one of them?

At first Owen believes the catalyst for murder and menace in York is the arrival of the political pariah William Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester. But he soon suspects that a formidable and skillful adversary from his past has arrived in the city, thrusting him and his family into grave danger, and his investigation becomes a race to uncover the truth before his old nemesis destroys all he holds dear.

Owen Archer suspects an old adversary is on his tail as he seeks to solve the mystery surrounding a dead body found on the road to York.

"A standout . . . Robb reinforces her place among the top...

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Featured Reviews

This story takes place in York, England in October 1376, and is book #14 in the Owen Archer series. The good thing about this story is that you can begin the series right here if you want. While there is a lot of back story lurking around, author Candace Robb is a kind author and includes just enough past history to allow readers new to the series to feel comfortably at home in the time period and the location.

Owen Archer (he was a Captain of archers, hence the last name) is captain of the baliffs in the cathedral city of York. Owen is responsible to the mayor of the city of York so is assigned the job of solving the murder of a man found naked on land owned by the sheriff. A cart of stones on its way to the masons working on the cathedral is found with the expensive collection of stonemason tools hidden among the stones. Where is the mason the tools belong to? Is he the dead man? As the investigation moves along Owen begins to notice that indescribable feeling of menace following him through the city. The clues begin to add up to one solution, Owen's past may have caught up with him.

I enjoyed this even though there was quite a bit of moving between here and there almost just for the sake of having characters leave and arrive on the page. There is a map included and I'm a real sucker for a good map so I can track where folks go on their midnight jaunts. A lot of movement takes place in the lives of regular characters in this series as well and I'm definitely looking forward to finding out what happens to Alisoun and Jasper in the next book.

Thank you to NetGalley and Severn House Publishing for an e-galley of this novel.

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The man who robbed Owen Archer of his eyesight and thus his profession appears in book fourteen, still seeking vengeance.

Archer acknowledges the good life he has found in York in the intervening years: apothecary wife, adopted son, three children of their own, good friends and the respect of the community.

But if fate gives him a chance to avenge the wrong, can Archer turn it down?

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I read a lot of the early books in this medieval series in the 90s and had forgotten how much I enjoyed it, so it was a pleasure to re-acquaint myself with Owen Archer, Welsh ex-soldier and spy, who was the King’s Captain of archers until he lost an eye. Now living in York with his apothecary wife Lucie and their children, he is captain of the city’s bailiffs, responsible for protecting the city and investigating crimes.

When a naked murdered man is found on the sheriff’s land, with a cartload of expensive stone destined for the abbey abandoned nearby, Owen is tasked with finding his killer. This turns out to be more difficult than expected and it takes Owen a while to discover that the man’s death was only a small part of a more sinister plot that may have had its roots in Owen’s past. There is indeed a fox hiding in the city with deadly intentions.

Reading this reminded me why I used to enjoy this series so much. The time period (1376 in this book) is so well depicted with the sights and the sounds of the city a backdrop to the everyday lives of its people. There is always reference to real events and real people and the political intrigues of the day. Owen’s wife and family life are also important elements to the plot and the storytelling is first rate. Sufficient background to Owen's past worked well to remind me of Owen's history and would make it possible to read this as a stand alone. The plot does take a while to unfold, but is nevertheless engrossing reading and well worth the journey.

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Don't worry if you haven't read all or any of the preceding books in this terrific series- this is a great mystery with vivid characters that's just as good as a standalone. The one eyed Owen Archer finds himself in deep when a body is found on land owned by Sheriff Ralph Hastings. It's 1376 and something is afoot in York which may or may not be related to the visit of the Bishop of Winchester, William Wyckham. Archer, a Welshman who was the King's Captain of Archers, finds that in fact it's his own past that's coming back to haunt him. His wife Lucie, an apothecary, and his family are interesting as well and add a leavening touch. While I'm likely not as well versed in the period as some readers, I found it atmospheric and fascinating. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. A good read for fans of historical fiction.

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This latest entry in the Owen Archer series is wrapped around Archer’s past. The past when he was a captain of archers for the Duke of Lancaster and was betrayed by one of his own men. A betrayal which resulted in the loss of his left eye and set him on the path readers’ found him on in the first book in the series, The Apothecary Rose.

In other words, in a peculiar way Owen owes everything he has to this betrayal and the man who arranged it. Owen has succeeded beyond his own wildest dreams, becoming a respected officer and landowner, the confidant of kings and princes, with a beautiful and intelligent wife and several wonderful children by birth and adoption.

Owen has it all – just as it seemed he did, in an entirely different way back when he was still a soldier. And the same man who tried to take it all away – along with Owen’s life – back then has followed him to York to try again.

But this time Owen has hostages to fortune. It’s not just his own life on the line, but the lives of his wife, his children, his friends and his colleagues. He has a lot to live for, and a lot to fight for.

All he has to do is finally get the fox Reynard out of his fold of the city of York without losing anyone he holds dear along the way.

But the case is complicated – as nearly all of Owen’s cases are complicated – by the machinations of the high and mighty. Reynard may be acting on his own, determined to finally best the man he has both envied and hated for all these years.

Or he might be in the pay of someone determined to bring disaster on Owen and on the city of York for political reasons of their own. If Reynard has an influential patron, Owen’s case may be much, much harder to solve.

And possibly even more deadly, and with even more dire consequences than he ever imagined.

Escape Rating A-: Owen Archer is caught on the horns of multiple dilemmas when this story opens, and he barks up more than a few of the wrong trees before he finally realizes that not just all of the cases that confront him are one but that the instigator of those cases is not at all who he thought it was.

And his confusion and split attention does lead to a bit of the same on the part of the reader until Owen finally manages to focus his one eye on the true threat to his city and to everyone that he holds dear.

What makes the Owen Archer series so fascinating, at least to this reader, is the way that the mysteries he faces touch on both the big and the small. By big, I mean the roiling politics of his time, and by small, I mean the everyday crimes that are the bread and butter of all mystery stories.

This particular mystery at first looks small, a dead cart driver and a missing load of building stones. At first, the biggest part of the mystery seems to be where the stones might have gone. How, exactly does one “fence” or whatever the medieval term might have been, a load of building stones?

But, as with so many of Owen’s cases, the simple opening leads to some dark and twisty alleys – in the streets of York, in Owen’s past, and in the political upheaval yet to come.

King Edward III is going to die in less than a year, after 50 years of ruling England. His Prince of Wales has predeceased him, and his country is going to be left in the hands of a child who will rule (badly) as Richard II. As the old king falters, the jockeying for position on a regency council has already begun – and friends and advisors of the dying Edward are in danger of losing their places and perhaps even their lives in the coming storm.

Owen believes that King Edward’s former Chancellor has brought bad luck to York when he arrives in the midst of what seems to be a pilgrimage of atonement. And he has, but not in the way that Owen thinks. But Owen saw the man as a ‘bird of ill omen’ in A Choir of Crows and is reluctant to change his mind – especially as death has followed in the man’s wake yet again.

Instead, someone from Owen’s past has taken advantage of the visit to strike Owen down one more time. But this fox operates in the shadows, and Owen doesn’t sense the true nature of the threat for almost too long.

So, as with other entries in the series, this mystery begins small but unfolds large – while forcing Owen to look back at who he was and who he is. It gives him the chance to understand that what he once thought would break him was the making of him after all.

One of the things that I love about this entry in the series is the way that it both reflects back on earlier books in the series, particularly the first book, The Apothecary Rose, and the more recent A Choir of Crows while also casting a reflection on events in its period that reflect the present. If historical mystery is your thing, and you haven’t yet walked the streets of Owen Archer’s medieval York, I highly recommend starting this series from the beginning with The Apothecary Rose.

I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, whenever it may appear, because I expect it to cover an event that we’ve just experienced – in pomp and circumstance but diluted actual impact. In our own time, the Queen is dead, long live the King. In Owen’s time, the King will be dead, and the realm will be in for one hell of a mess.

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Many thanks to NetGalley and Severn House for this Advanced Reader Copy and the opportunity to review “A Fox in the Fold.” All opinions and comments are my own.

Owen Archer and his detective skills are definitely tested in this latest entry (this is the 14th book) in the series, set in medieval York. But what begins as an investigation into assault and murder (later, murders) becomes a study of how Owen and his family are tested, and what they learn and realize about each other. It’s a tough lesson, as life lessons often are. Candace Robb handles it as only a seasoned author can.

Our setting: Owen is called to the scene of a murder outside the city walls. And if that’s not enough, there’s trouble in the kingdom. At home, son Jasper is undergoing a crisis of his own. Owen’s wife Lucie is busy in the apothecary she owns. We’re getting a round-up of all the characters, and how far they’ve come in the course of the series is evident.

Politics, greed, jealousy -- Owen contends with it all in the course of the story. In regards to the politics subplot, take a few minutes and do some Cliff Notes research on the history of the time. The author offers up explanation, but it can be confusing and may take some away from fully enjoying the book.

Luckily there’s no confusion when it comes to the heart of the story. Jealousy and revenge are overriding themes, the “fox in the fold” all too relevant. Murderous intent becomes a watchword, and Owen contends with threats and injury to his family.

We have a final showdown, and all the crimes (past and present) are eventually accounted for. Peace will reign -- until the next time Owen is called upon. But family dynamics are changing a bit, and the Archer family must contend with that.

“A Fox in the Fold” offers readers an author secure in her craft, with excellent characterization and a firm grasp of her chosen setting. It’s another winner from Candace Robb, an excellent reading experience.

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1376 York. A body has been discovered north of the city on Sheriff Ralph Hastings' land. As Archer investigates he at first thinks that it is connected to the arrival of William Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester. But soon he believes that his past has finally arrived. How many must die before the end.
An enjoyable and well-written historical mystery with its cast of likeable and varied characters. Another good addition to this entertaining series which can easily be read as a standalone story.
An ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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A testing time for our Owen!

Power is changing in the English Court. It’s 1376. Prince Edward is dead. The Percy and Neville families are curious about Owen Archer. Princess Joan wants to retain Archer to serve her son, the young Prince Richard. The Prince’s uncles are circling, including the Duke of Lancaster.
A naked body has been discovered in a field owned by Sheriff Ralph Hastings, lying near a cart full of stone. The carter fled when attacked. The other men had curiously disappeared. Is the body one of the carter’s men?
At the same time William of Wykeham, the Bishop of Winchester and the Chancellor of England has unexpectedly turned up escorting two of sisters from Wherwell Abbey. He’s come, against advice, in part to see how his waning power might be curtailed.
It appears there could be links between the Bishop, the stone being carted, and the dead body.
In this tale Owen’s family comes under siege. There’s discord between Archer’s son Jasper and his soon to be betrothed Alisoun, a young healer learning with Dame Magda.
Gwen, Owen’s daughter has been distraught over Jasper’s treatment of her and her actions put her in danger.
On the home front there’s drama and political intrigue for “bird-eye” (Magda’s name for the one-eyed Archer) and the past will pay a terrifying visit. Archer reflects on that past and how that’s impacted the present, whilst trying to prevent his position from being undercut. An enemy is doing all he can to belittle Owen. There’s danger on all sides. Wisdom and astuteness will be needed.
I’m a huge fan of Owen Archer and love seeing the man he has become, his standing in the community, the way he deals with his family members, and the solid respect and love he shows for his wife Lucie Wilton. This tale adds more depth and breadth to the man, as he reflects on what was and confronts the now. A man as strong as the English bow he carries.

A Severn House ARC via NetGalley.
Many thanks to the author and publisher.

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Enter the medieval world of York, where Owen Archer has settled with his family, but is stil on call to help the great folk. In this tale we discover more about how he lost his eye, and who he blames, as ghosts from his past return, some seeking vengeance on him.

Owen Archer is summoned by sheriff Sir Ralph Hastings regarding a stripped and bloodied body discovered on the road north to York. Could it be connected to an attack on a carter and his labourers who were transporting stone destined for St Clement's Priory? The carter fled, but his men stayed to fight and are now missing. Is the victim one of them?

Is William Wykeham, a social and political pariah part of the problem, as he has come to York ostensibly to persuade a cantrice to return with him to a larger abbey. What starts as a simple tale of robbery soon becomes a complex series of events, with Archer at the centre as target and vigilante. His family is threatened.

Historically accurate, the author paints a believable picture of life in Medieval England, as well as telling an exciting tale.

Thank you to NetGalley and Severn House for allowing me access to the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I've been reading Owen Archer's mysteries for ages and I was never disappointed as they're always well written and gripping.
This is another well plotted and solid mystery that kept me guessing. The historical backgrouns is vivid and I was glad to catch up with the characters.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this arc, all opinions are mine

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Candace Robb has A Fox in the Fold in York with Reynard, a former archer in Owen Archer's company of archers
in York to create havoc on Archer's family and city. 1376, Edward the Prince of Wales, Owen's master is dead and royal politics also encroach on York.. Owen has to find and stop Reynard who tried to kill him once and protect a bishop whom the Duke of Lancaster holds in disfavour. As usual family quarrels are entangled in the duties of Owen and his wife Lucy. Very intriguing historical novel.

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The arrival in York of William of Wykeham, the disgraced Bishop of Winchester and the violent and very bloody attack on a convoy carrying stones on the outskirts of the city are at the center of this captivating historical mystery.

The year is 1376 and the old Edward III is slowly dying in Windsor. England is about to enter a period of political rivalry between the future Richard II and the House of Lancaster that will bring great political instability till the end of the 14th century.

Candace Robb brilliantly describes that atmosphere of impending doom. It's dark, menacing and very violent. A new addition to her Owen Archer Mystery Series that will draw the reader into a vast and complex story full of greed, jealousies, lies and violent deaths in a city struggling to keep peace within its walls.

A magnificent plot full of unexpected twists and turns
some sparkling dialogues, an exquisitely drawn cast of characters and some rich historical details turned this medieval whodunit into a delightful and unforgettable read from start to finish.

Many thanks to Severn House and Netgalley for this terrific ARC

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