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Oh joy of joys...
on 20 March 2014
This has been an excellent last couple of years for lovers of the 'Sorrowful Mysteries' series. Short stories available on Kindle and three new novels of which this is the third in fairly short order. Rather like Michael Jecks series set in the earlier part of the 14th century (Sir Baldwin & Bailiff Puttock and the machinations of the Edwardian Court, the DeSpensers and Queen Isabella) the 'Sorrowful Mysteries' (with the diminutive dominican friar Athelstan and the redoubtable Sir John Cranston) are beginning to move inexorably towards a another critical point in 14th century history, that of the peasants revolt of 1381.
As is usual there is malice afoot in the Southwark runnels and stews and several of the Kings tax collectors and information gatherers are dead. Money is involved and the 'Great Community of the Realm' in the form of the Upright Men are beginning to flex their muscle in the home counties. Athelstan and Cranston are tasked with sorting out this mess and making sense of what has happened. In the meantime Athelstan's parishioners are up to their usual furtive necks in the shennanigans and get caught in the middle of what's going on - enough spoilers now, you'll need to buy the book to find out what happens.
Doherty in all his guises and psuedonyms is one of my goto historical mystery writers and I remain aghast that the 'Sorrowful Mysteries' has never been picked up as a TV series. All of the books are wickedly plotted and rich in almost Dickensian detail of the life of 1370's and 80's London. Maybe I'm a bit biased because when I pick up one of these books to read I generally go for total immersion and only re-appear when I've read it from cover to cover, that way I don't break the spell of seeing and hearing the sights and sounds and the smells and taste of the period. The relationships between all of the various protagonists are well described and the historical detail accurate within given artistic license. I'm hoping there are some more mysteries in the pipeline as we head toward the confrontation at Smithfield in June of that year.