Hundreds left for the Crusade, but only a handful returned, among them Simon of Blackstone and his friends. Now that they have returned home each has a mission to accomplish. For Simon it is to confront the man he believes is his father, the revered Bishop of Durleigh.

But the bishop is ill, dying of a slow poison, or so the herbalist, Linnet Especer, believes. Soon after Simons visit, the Bishops body is found and suspicion falls on the returning knight.

Determined to find the killer, Simon discovers he must work with Linnet, though he suspects she may be the murderer.

By pooling their efforts with those of two monks, Linnet and Simon uncover surprising truths and more than one villain who would benefit from the Bishops death.

The closer they get to the killer, the greater the risk. When Linnet is endangered, Simon realizes how much he cares for her and risks his life to prove her innocence. But will that love survive when the secrets of the past are finally revealed?

Like Ellis Peters, Suzanne Barclay has created a medieval mystery worthy of Brother Cadfael, that is at once suspenseful and romantic. Drawing a lush and accurate portrait of the era and creating likable characters, Ms. Barclay, in her final novel before her untimely death, illustrates again the reason why her books are such fan favorites. The romance world will sincerely miss this bright shining talent. SENSUAL (Dec., 385 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin