Friday, 29 June 2012

Paul Doherty: Murder Most Holy Review

Another very good tale of murder and mystery in early 15th Century London. Dominicans are disappearing or being found dead in Blackfriars; Brother Athelstan and Coroner Sir John Cranston are called in. Under the sceptical and beady eye of two Inquisitors they have to prove murder, find corpses and solve the crimes.

In the meantime, Athelstan has his own skeleton to worry about, found under the church during renovation work. Sir John adds to the list of troubles: Regent John Of Gaunt has trapped him into taking a wager of 1,000 crowns, money he does not have. Solve a locked room puzzle or rely on the Regent to cover the debt - and thus become one of his creatures.

Doherty, writing as Paul Harding, paints his usual colourful picture of the teeming city, with its ordure and bawds, vagabonds and merchants and a tavern on most corners to staisfy the bibulous Sir John. He switches effortlessly to the quiet cloisters of Blackfriars and to the richer but less weighty court of Gaunt. There's also a few nice touches in the words and actions of the young king (Richard II to be) as the boy grows cold and frustrated by his uncle's hanging on to power.

Does the detecting match the descriptive? Yes: as a whodunit this is a fine tale - the clues are there, the reasoning solid, the pace is well done. Rich and enjoyable, this series does not flag.


Cora Harrison said...

Yes, I like Paul Doherty, too, though I haven't read this one.

Yes, that would be fine to use images from my site. They were taken by son-in-law, Pete Mason, a talented photographer as well as web designer.

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