I must admit I would not have picked out this book in a bookstore. But I’m glad that somebody else did. My first P.C. Doherty and I am not disappointed. I wonder why I didn’t come across him much earlier? Doherty makes for an excellent read for anyone with a taste for history, adventure, and mystery.
Obviously there is a detective Hugh Corbett (infact the sub title of the book puts it succinctly, “A Medieval Mystery featuring Hugh Corbett”) and a Watson called Ranulf. The other characters are flamboyant, including the victim. But it’s the description of the setting that is very creative. It is evident that Doherty has researched his subject. I often wondered how a medieval mystery might work but that was before I read this work. The Medieval Ages in Europe especially England were also known as Dark Ages with little respect for law and order. So the moral authority of the detective, which is a must for him to uncover the mysteries, would be questioned. But Doherty manages it amazingly. He raises the stature of the detctive and uses the King’s authority as well to commission an investigation into the unexplained murders.
Now to the story: Lord Henry Fritzalan was killed on the eve of the feast of St. Matthew in 1303. Henry had few friends and fewer good qualities. When Corbett is asked to find his murderer he is faced with the task of not just finding the suspect but choosing among many.
Doherty excels in creating the medieval atmosphere of intrigue in the courts, amongst nobles and the taverns. The pace of the story is unbelievably racy. The characters are also etched out well. If only people would write more books like that.
Rating: * * * * * Khallas (deadly)
My Rating System:
* * * * * = Khallas (Deadly)
* * * * = Bindaas (Great)
* * * = Jhakaas (Good)
* * = Timepass(Okay)
* = Bakwaas (Avoid it)