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This review is from: The Straw Men (A Brother Athelstan Medieval Mystery) (Hardcover)
I've been looking forward to this book since Doherty started writing the 'Sorrowful Mysteries' series again and had this on order from the moment it hit the catalogue. I wasn't disappointed. It was a long wait between 10 and 11, but thankfully less than a year between Bloodstone (Brother Athelstan Mediaeval Mysteries) and The Straw Men (Creme De La Crime). Doherty in his many guises, Paul Harding and Michael Clynes being two, is an wonderful writer of 14th - 16th century mysteries. The plot is fairly well detailed above and I'm not going to describe it in any more detail and spoil the story. What is engaging about this particular series is the interaction between the main characters and the fantastically detailed and vivid descriptions of 14th century life. You can hear, taste, smell, feel and (almost) see (certainly picture) the scenes of medieval London, Hardings ability to describe London life of the time is almost Dickins like, as is his penchant for wonderfully evocative names.
The background to the stories is real. The machinations of John of Gaunt; regent to his brothers son - King Richard II, the Great Community of the Realm and the discontent of the masses; the rumours of Gaunt's legitimacy and his grip on the reigns of power, are elegantly and eloquently woven into a murder mystery that doesn't fully reveal itself until the final pages and although some of it is dedeuceable on the "eliminate the impossible and whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth" principle there are still some final twists and turns in the full explanation. The books are becoming darker in nature and there was less humour in this book than in others, but the time of the revolt was a turbulant time in British history and the book reflected this.
I had the wrapping off this one and finished it in a day of it landing on the mat. Thoroughly recommended and I can't wait for number 13.