The Hawkenlye Mysteries by Alys Clare
If you enjoyed Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael series (and lamented the author’s passing in 1995), then The Hawkenlye Mysteries, a series of novels by Alys Clare, may help fill the void.
Set in King Richard the Lionheart’s time, it is centered on the Abbey of Hawkenlye in Kent. The Abbey is the home and workplace of a community of nuns and lay brothers who specialize in the healing arts. Presided over by the shrewd, intelligent Abbess Helewise, the first novel commences with a murder. King Richard sends his trusted knight, Sir Josse d’Aquin, to investigate and soon the Abbess and Sir Josse become equal partners in crime solving.
Atmospheric, well written and with characters brought to life with their own back stories. Not all of the action is set in rural Kent, as Sir Josse hails from an ancient French family and makes regular trips to his ancestral estate. Whilst history books record the official events of the time, this series portrays the daily lives of the general population in a satisfying manner. It also touches upon the Crusades, when a murder in Hawkenlye is directly connected to an unresolved crime from the past.
The Hawkenlye Mysteries are a series of 16 novels published to date. The SMSA holds several of the novels, including Fortune Like the Moon and Ashes of the Elements. I recommend the reader start with these two books, and continue the series from there. This series is recommended for lovers of medieval murder mysteries.