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1399. York is preparing for civil war, teeming with knights and their armed retainers summoned for the city’s defense. Henry of Lancaster is rumored to have landed on the northeast coast of England, not so far from York, intent on reclaiming his inheritance—an inheritance which his cousin, King Richard, has declared forfeit.

With the city unsettled and rife with rumors, Eleanor Clifford’s abrupt return to York upon the mysterious death of her husband in Strasbourg is met with suspicion in the city. Her daughter Kate is determined to keep her distance, but it will not be easy—Eleanor has settled next door with the intention of establishing a house of beguines, or poor sisters. When one of the beguines is set upon in the night by an intruder, Kate knows that for the sake of her own reputation and the safety of her young wards she must investigate.

Author Candace Robb spent some time discussing A TWISTED VENGEANCE with The Big Thrill:

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

Women of the rising merchant class in 15th century England were not the passive homebodies many imagine them to be. Kate Clifford’s strength, courage and resourcefulness are based on historical examples. In the midst of the chaos of impending civil war, the people realized that they would be the ones to suffer in the battle between the royal cousins, yet, in the end, Richard or Henry, it would probably mean little to them.

How does this book make a contribution to the genre?

Soldiers poured into the city of York after Henry of Lancaster landed on the coast of Yorkshire, the duke of York certain that Henry meant to capture the most important city in the North of England. Little fiction has been written about this dangerous summer. Having researched and written about the city of York in this period for most of my career, I wanted to explore this frightening time.

Was there anything new you discovered, or surprised you, as you wrote this book?

As I delved more deeply into the troop movements and the behavior of the nobles and churchmen, I realized how quickly people realized that Henry of Lancaster was going to take the day. Far more quickly than I’d thought.

No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?

I think my answer to #3 is apropos here as well. Poor King Richard never had a chance. And I use the shifting loyalties to my advantage in the book.

What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?

Ursula LeGuin encouraged me to focus on the historical aspect of my fiction. Her writing has always been an inspiration in the beautiful simplicity of language and the art of gentle, knowing humor to keep the tension bearable. P.D. James and Colin Dexter were early inspirations in the crime novel being a novel, first and foremost.


Candace Robb is the bestselling author of 15 crime novels set in 14th century England, Wales, and Scotland, including the acclaimed Owen Archer series and the Margaret Kerr trilogy. Writing as Emma Campion, Candace has published historical novels about two fascinating women she encountered while researching the Owen Archer mysteries: Alice Perrers (The King’s Mistress) and Joan of Kent (A Triple Knot). Candace lives in Seattle, Washington.

To learn more about Candace and her work, please visit her website.