Priscilla Royal books in order
Priscilla Royal is an American author of historical mystery novels.
Born in Washington State and raised in British Columbia, Priscilla was quite passionate about chemistry as a child.
In college, she became a comparative literature major with the hope of having a future career in teaching, until stage fright gave her a huge reality check.
Priscilla went on to work as a civil servant for more than three decades before turning to fiction writing upon retirement.
Her writing is heavily influenced by the works of mystery authors Sharon Kay Penman and Ellis Peters.
Genres: Historical Mystery, Mystery
- Favas Can Be Fatal (2006)
- Wine of Violence (2003)
- Tyrant of the Mind (2004)
- Sorrow Without End (2006)
- Justice for the Damned (2007)
- Forsaken Soul (2008)
- Chambers of Death (2009)
- Valley of Dry Bones (2010)
- A Killing Season (2011)
- The Sanctity of Hate (2012)
- Covenant with Hell (2013)
- Satan's Lullaby (2015)
- Land of Shadows (2016)
- The Proud Sinner (2017)
- Wild Justice (2018)
- The Twice-Hanged Man (2019)
- 3 Great Historical Mysteries (2013)
Priscilla Royal Medieval Mysteries
- Elegy to Murder (2020)
- Prayers of the Dead (2021)
Detailed book overview
Alice McDoughall has absolutely no interest in sleuthing, and thinks amateur detectives are a silly bunch, so imagine her shock when she comes to the defense of her best friend, whose restaurant is threatened when obnoxious food critic Arthur Peters drops dead while dining in her establishment, and uncovers a murder, and a whole host of suspects. First-time novelist Priscilla Royal cooks up a deliciously enjoyable whodunit featuring a memorable cast of characters and one of the most surprising murder weapons in mystery history!
It's summer 1270, and England is as weary as its aging king, Henry III. The Simon de Montfort rebellion is over, and in the small priory of Tyndall on the remote East Anglian coast, the monks and nuns of the Order of Fontevraud long to return to their tranquil routine. But then the young, inexperienced Eleanor of Wynethorpe is appointed their new prioress. It's a political move and not popular.
The day after she takes up her office, a brutally murdered monk is found in the cloister gardens. Then Brother Thomas arrives. Sent to investigate the Order's shaky finances, the young priest is also paying the price for a crime that could see him burn. As Thomas battles to accept his new life, Eleanor, struggling to gain the respect of her terrified and resentful flock, must cope with violence, lust, and greed to find a vicious killer.
A nun and a monk defy death and dishonor at her family's Welsh fortress...
In the winter of 1271, Death stalks the corridors of Wynethorpe Castle on the Welsh border. When the Grim Reaper touches the beloved grandson of the castle lord, Baron Adam sends for his daughter, Prioress Eleanor of Tyndal, and her sub-infirmarian, Sister Anne, to save the child with prayers and healing talents. Escorting them to the remote fortress is Brother Thomas, an unwilling monk fighting his private demons.
Death may be denied once in his quest for souls but never twice. Soon after the trio arrives, an important guest is murdered. The prioress's brother, bloody dagger in hand, stands over the corpse. All others may believe in his guilt, but Eleanor is convinced her brother is innocent.
Outside her priory, in a world of armed men, Eleanor may have little authority, but she is determined to untangle the Gordian knot of thwarted passions and old resentments even if it means defying her father, a man with whom she longs to make peace. As passions rise with the winter wind and time runs short, Eleanor, Anne and Thomas struggle to find the real killer.
As the autumn storms of 1271 ravage the East Anglian coast, Crowner Ralf finds the corpse of a brutally murdered soldier in the woods near Tyndal Priory. The dagger in the man's chest is engraved with a strange, cursive design, and the body is wrapped in a crusader's cloak. Was the murder the act of a member of the Assassin sect, or was the weapon meant to mislead him in finding the killer?
Ralf's decision to take the corpse to the priory for advice may be reasonable, but he is soon caught up in a maelstrom of conflict, both personal and political. The priory is deeply divided over whether to purchase a relic. The decision could endanger both Prioress Eleanor's leadership and the future of the hospital. Brother Thomas becomes a suspect in the murder itself, and Ralf must choose between the demands of his brother, the sheriff, and loyalty to a friend.
Meanwhile, the murderer watches and waits.
It is May of 1272, and Prioress Eleanor of Tyndale, recovering from a near-fatal winter fever, journeys to Amesbury Priory to visit her aunt in time for the Feast of Saint Melor. Although Eleanor hopes to regain her strength in the midst of pleasant childhood memories, Death reveals a most troublesome fondness for her company. A ghost now haunts Amesbury. And when a man is decapitated near the river where the grim figure walks, Sister Beatrice, Eleanor's aunt and acting prioress of Amesbury, shows an uncharacteristic hesitancy about taking charge of any investigation.
As others apparently fall victim to the vengeful ghost, Eleanor struggles to put a human face on the restless spirit, and Brother Thomas, pursuing a secret mission for the Church connected with the Priory's famous Psaltery, finds that his own demons have unexpectedly taken on a very human form....
The summer of 1273 is peaceful for most of England, but not for Prioress Eleanor of Tyndal Priory. Her friend, Crowner Ralf, is newly widowed with a baby. And her new anchoress is welcoming visitors to her window at night: one of them a man the prioress secretly loves. Now his loyalty to her as head of Tyndal Priory is suspect. Then Martin the Cooper is poisoned at the local inn. Martin had a wealth of enemies. The killer could be any of them. No one likes the direction the evidence points, but God's justice must be rendered even for the most forsaken soul.
When one of her company falls ill on a return journey to Tyndal, Prioress Eleanor accepts lodging at a nearby manor. Master Stevyn's wife is having an affair with the groom while a local widow acts more the lady of the manor than the lady herself. His eldest son and spouse are obsessed with sin and heaven while his youngest son, bound for the Church, unexpectedly returns with more interest in lute playing than the priesthood.
It is no surprise when someone's throat is cut, but the sheriff does all he can to avoid offending the family rather than seeking the real killer. When he arrests a servant, she herself is stabbed before she can either prove innocence or be taken off for hanging. Will Eleanor discover the dark secrets that have led to this string of killings before the murderer strikes again?
In the late summer of 1274, King Edward has finally been anointed England's ruler, and his queen contemplates a pilgrimage in gratitude for their safe return from Outremer, a journey that will include a stay at Tyndal Priory.
Envoys are sent to confirm that everything will be suitable for the king's wife, and Prioress Eleanor nervously awaits them, knowing that regal visits bring along expense and honor. The cost is higher than expected, however, when Death arrives as the unexpected emissary. One of the courtiers is murdered near the hut where Brother Thomas now lives as a hermit.
Each member of the party has reason to hate the dead man, including Crowner Ralf's eldest brother, Sir Fulke, and the prioress's nemesis, the man in black. Soon Eleanor is embroiled in the dangerous world of power games, both secular and religious. Indeed, England's future under a new king may offer hope and relief, but skeletons from the past can come back to life like those in the biblical valley of dry bones. Which had cause enough to kill?
Baron Herbert's return from crusade should have been a joyous occasion. Instead, he grows increasingly morose, withdraws from his family, and refuses to share his wife's bed. When his sons begin to die in strange accidents, some ask whether Herbert harbors a dark sin for which God has cursed him.
Then the baron suddenly sends for Sir Hugh of Wynethorpe, begging his friend to bring spiritual and secular healers but giving little explanation for the request. Worried about Herbert's descent into melancholy and the tragic deaths, Sir Hugh persuades his sister, Prioress Eleanor of Tyndal Priory, as well as a respected physician, Master Gamel, to accompany him. Although he is pleased when the prioress brings her healer, Sister Anne, he is surprised to find the mysterious Brother Thomas included.
Is there a malign presence at this storm-blasted castle, oddly named Doux et Dur? Tensions spark among family members and soon ignite too among those who came to help. Death's scythe harvests more victims, and it is not long before Ecclesiastes' grim words seem all too apt: there is a season for everything under heaven, including a time to kill....
The summer of 1276 at Tyndal Priory is passing peacefully until a villager's corpse is found floating in the millpond. The murder victim, a newcomer, was greatly disliked in Tyndal. Yet no villager wants to see one of their own hanged for the deed. Fingers quickly point to a trio of Jewish refugees―husband, mother-in-law, and very pregnant wife―forced to take shelter while relocating under the provisions of King Edward's Statute of the Jewry. Riots loom; threats against the Jews mount.
Eleanor and Ralf have little time to gather evidence before popular opinion rules the murder solved. But when the prioress' maid Gytha joins the suspect list, the inquiry takes an even more troubling turn. Murder investigations are always grim, but this one grows as ominous as a North Sea storm....
In the Spring of 1277, Prioress Eleanor goes on a pilgrimage to a famous East Anglian shrine. There are rumors that King Edward may also visit the shrine soon to seek God's blessing for his invasion of Wales. Lurking in this sacred place, however, is an assassin hoping to murder a king.
Soon after Prioress Eleanor and Brother Thomas arrive, a nun falls to her death from the priory bell tower. Brother Thomas finds the body, and the pair quickly grasp that this nun's death was not a simple tragedy. The circumstances point to murder, but this slaying is further tainted with treason. Among the pilgrims, merchants, and religious, too many betray an interest in this death―including a canny street child. At least one of them is most certainly a killer.
Can Prioress Eleanor and Brother Thomas succeed in exposing the assassin or will they also fall victim to one who has made a covenant with hell?
It is the autumn of 1278. The harvest is in. The air is crisp. Dusty summer breathes a last sigh before the dark seasons arrive.
For Prioress Eleanor, dark times arrive early in Norfolk. Abbess Isabeau, the head of her order, has sent Father Etienne Davoir from its headquarters in France to inspect all aspects of Tyndal Priory from its morals to its roofs. Surely the Abbess would not have chosen her own brother for this rare and thorough investigation unless the cause was serious and she had reason to fear intervention from Rome. Prioress Eleanor knows something is terribly amiss.
The situation turns calamitous when Davoir's sick clerk dies from a potion sent by Sister Anne, Tyndale's sub-infirmarian. Is Sister Anne guilty of simple incompetence - or murder? Or, Davoir asks, did Prioress Eleanor order the death to frighten him away before he discovered the truth behind accusations she is unfit for her position? When Davoir himself is threatened, the priest roars for justice.
Even expectant father Crowner Ralf, the local representative of the king's justice, has lost all objectivity. The most likely suspects are Anne, the woman Ralf once loved, the prioress he respects, and the Tyndal monk, Thomas, who is his closest friend. Who among the French and English assembled at Tyndal has succumbed to Satan's lullaby?
A royal birth, a nobleman's death, a scarlet woman's murder...
In March 1279, Edward I takes a break from hammering the Welsh and bearing down on England's Jews to vacation in Gloucestershire. The royal party breaks the journey at Woodstock Manor. And there one life begins as Queen Eleanor labors to birth a new daughter, and one draws to an end when apoplexy fells Baron Adam Wynethorpe.
Hotfoot to the baron's deathbed comes his elder son, Hugh, a veteran of Edward I's Crusades, who can't shake off the battle horrors he's witnessed. The baron's daughter, Prioress Eleanor, has already arrived, bringing along both her sub-infirmarian, Sister Anne, and the monk, Brother Thomas, to tend her father. Awaiting Hugh is his bastard son, Richard, a youth filled with rebellion…and a secret.
The royal manor is packed with troubling guests including a sinister priest, an elderly Jewish mother from nearby Oxford mourning a son hanged for the treason of coin-clipping, contentious and greedy courtiers, and a lusty wife engaged with more than one lover. Quite soon, the wife is found hanged. Eleanor and Sister Anne persuade the High Sheriff of Berkshire that Mistress Hawis' death was not a suicide. In fact, many at the manor had reason to wish Hawis dead. One suspect is...Richard.
In the winter of 1282, snow and ice ravage East Anglia while Prioress Eleanor awaits the decision of her young maid, Gracia, found starving on the streets some years ago, whether to take vows or to leave Tyndal Priory to make her way in the world.
But a far greater problem arrives at the priory gate. Seven abbots are riding to meet a papal legate in Norfolk. This is not a pilgrimage―each abbot hopes to make a case for being raised to a bishopric at the next vacancy. One abbot grows so ill the party has detoured to Tyndal. And despite the limited care Sister Anne can offer, Abbot Ilbert dies a horrible death, cause unknown.
As his fellows prepare to resume their journey the next day, Abbot Tristram doubles over in great distress. By now the heavy snows have choked all the roads and the priory and village are marooned. Tristram dies. And then another abbot sickens while Sister Anne struggles to determine what killed these men―which question soon becomes not just what, but who did it?
One suspect is the gluttonous Odo, the ambitious Abbot of Caldwell and younger brother of Crowner Ralf. Since everyone despises Odo, is he simply a red herring? Prioress Eleanor is determined to stop the carnage that has shattered the tranquility in her priory while the Crowner must enforce the king's justice. Brother Thomas and Sister Anne form part of the investigation which plumbs the priory's kitchens and management as well as its medical facilities.
It is Spring 1282. England is at war again with Wales. As Baron Hugh of Wynethorpe, a veteran of fighting in Outremer, prepares to join his King's army, he begs his sister, Prioress Eleanor, a favor. On her journey home to Tyndal Prior in Norfolk, she is to carry a gift of rents from the Wynethorpe estates to Mynchen Buckland Priory. The charter for the grant and a private letter are to be given to the Hospitaller nuns' Prioress Amicia, and none other. Eleanor agrees - if Hugh is heading into the Welsh wilderness, then she, Eleanor, will do him this service as well as pray for his protection.
When she and her party of Brother Thomas and Sister Anne arrive in cold and rain-sodden Somerset, they receive a chilly welcome. Then the new Prioress at Mynchen Buckland delivers shocking news: Amicia has been imprisoned, convicted of murdering a widow from the village in the priory's cloister, and awaits sentencing by the Prior of England, the Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem's regional head in London. Eleanor gives Hugh's grant to newly elected Prioress Emelyne, but insists she must obey her brother's wishes by having an audience with Amicia in her cell. Eleanor is resolute in wishing to fulfill her promise by delivering Hugh's letter into Amicia's hands. Permission is granted.
Eleanor is unprepared for Amicia's terribly frail condition. And more so when Amicia reads the Baron's letter, then tearfully begs Tyndal's prioress to prove her innocence, claiming she did not commit the crime. Eleanor believes her.
In an unfamiliar place, the murder victim buried, and nothing left at the crime site, what can the Tyndal trio unearth? And how can they prolong their visit? Eleanor has it - she fakes a fall and injury to her ankle which requires nursing. Thomas and Anne will have to be her investigators, though they are closely chaperoned by members of the Mynchen Buckland community. Still, they learn the dead woman's unsavory behavior had made her well hated. Will anyone help uncover the real killer?
As Edward I wages a bloody conflict with Wales, Prioress Eleanor escorts her younger brother, Robert, and his wife, who is in labor, from their Marcher lands to greater safety at a Wynethorpe manor in a village just inside the English border. They are joined by Brother Thomas, the Prioress's trusted friend, and Sister Anne, who helps navigate the difficult birth and delivers a baby girl.
Mother and child may be healthy, but Death never wanders far from this beloved Prioress―whether she's home at Tyndal in Norfolk or traveling the realm. The local abbot begs her help―the village priest has been found dead and standing over him is, a reliable witness says, the ghost of Hywel, the village stonemason who was recently hanged for slaying some sleeping English soldiers.
Bone tired, Brother Thomas questions the village hangman, who assures him that Hywel was hanged once and then, when the weight of the fat felon strung up alongside him broke the beam of the gallows, was hanged again. The experienced executioner checked all the bodily signs―Hywel was dead. But where is his grave? And what secrets are the mysterious locals keeping from the outsiders visiting their troubled home?
Here are three great historical crime novels in one volume.
ROMAN GAMES: Rome, AD 95 – a city under the thrall of a tyrant. It is up to Gaius Plinius Secundus – better known to posterity as Pliny the Younger – to investigate the murder of one of emperor's favourites. He has just 15 days to solve the case, 15 days that will threaten Pliny's conscience, his life and the stability of Rome itself.
ONE FOR SORROW: Amid the splendour and the squalor of sixth-century Byzantium. A treasury official has been murdered. Could someone have killed him for a priceless holy relic? A Knight from distant Bretania seems to believe so...
WINE OF VIOLENCE: AD 1270. On a remote East Anglian coast stands the priory of Tyndal, a place dedicated to love and peace. But Eleanor of Wynethorpe, the new prioress, will find little of either... Only a day after Eleanor's arrival, a brutally mutilated monk is found dead in the cloister gardens.
Priscilla Royal Medieval Mysteries
May 1283. The roads near Tyndal Priory are filled with happy pilgrims returning from St. Walstan’s feast day.
But all is not joyful. Prioress Eleanor’s loved ones are suffering. Signy, the local innkeeper, is quarelling with her suddenly rebellious foster son. Gytha, Crowner Ralf’s wife, suffers failing health while her husband hunts smugglers on the remote North Sea coast. Brother Thomas remains moody and aloof. She longs to help them all, but disaster strikes. An itinerant carpenter is badly beaten. A pilgrim is murdered near the priory walls.
Are the two crimes connected? Prioress Eleanor has no right to intervene in crimes outside the Church’s authority, but any delay will allow the killer to escape into the crowds of pilgrims. Until the crowner can return, she must act.
Is it too late? Will this be the first murderer she cannot bring to justice?
November 1283. Prioress Eleanor’s cousin, the Earl of Ness, visits with his wife, Eda. When his unloved spouse is murdered in the priory chapel with his knife, he becomes the prime suspect. Another murder follows. Eda’s quiet priest is killed in the same chapel. Eda had many enemies, so what connection could there be between a ruthless woman and a pious man who cared nothing of earthy things?
Crowner Ralf insists the crimes fall under the king’s law and that Prioress Eleanor lacks objectivity because of her cousin’s involvement. Prioress Eleanor refuses, claiming that she must determine why the crime occurred in her priory. She also believes that her cousin is more likely to tell her needed details than to an unknown crowner. But as she digs deeper, she begins to fear what she might discover. She may have thought her cousin was innocent, but she realizes he is lying to her. Having given her word that she would not be blinded by familial love, she knows that she may have to face tragedy and walk her cousin to the gallows.