Paul Doherty Top Five – my 300th Post

And so, we roll around to my 300th post. What to do for that one? Well, one of the things that I did quite a bit of when I started the site was a number of Top Five posts – Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Gideon Fell, Henry Merrivale and non-series Carr. While you may have thought I should have done one for Ellery Queen, I haven’t (and still haven’t) read enough of those.

But one author that I have since read enough of (as regular readers will have spotted) is Paul Doherty and as such, it’s time for a Paul Doherty Top Five.

Paul Doherty is one of the finest and certainly the most prolific writers of historical mysteries out there and has spread himself across a multitude of series. As such, I’ll give myself a proviso – no more than one book per series. So, off we go.

1. Nightshade

The sixteenth of the Hugh Corbett series. Corbett is Edward I’s top agent and in this book, he is ent to retrieve a stolen treasure from a lord of the manor in Essex. Enter a masked bowman, killing people at random, and a well-done locked room mystery, and you have a book that shows off all of Doherty’s strengths. It’s the book that got me hooked as well, which is why I’ve picked it over many other books from the same series.

Other Hugh Corbett Recommendations:

2. The House of Crows

I do find it hard to pick between Athelstan, a priest in Southwark in the early years of Richard II, and Corbett as to which is my favourite series. They are both very strong indeed and I think this is my favourite of the Athelstan novels. The Knights of the Swan, members of Parliament for Shropshire are being picked off one at a time while a demon haunts the parish and all the cats have disappeared. A well plotted mystery and a real page turner.

Other Brother Athelstan Recommendations:

3. Murder’s Immortal Mask

4th Century Rome, and, in this entry from one of Doherty’s shorter series, the Nefandus, a monster, stalks the night murdering prostitutes. Meanwhile a henchman of Emperor Constantine’s predecessor has been murdered while locked inside a vault. Claudia, agent to the Empress Helena, has to sort things out. I’ve picked this one from the series, but you really should read them in order, starting from Murder Imperial. No other recommendations, as I’ve yet to read the second and third books in the series.

4. The Hangman’s Hymn

From The Canterbury Tales series, this just edges out A Haunt of Murder – for those not in the know, these stories tend (but not always) to have a supernatural bent. This one concerns a carpenter who joins the local band of hangmen, only for a family of witches to apparently return from the grave to exact revenge. This isn’t my favourite series, but the good entries are very good indeed.

Other Canterbury Tales Recommendations:

5. A Murder In Thebes

Probably the hardest one to get hold of (written under the pseudonym Anna Apostolou), although I believe it will be coming in ebook form soon, this tells the tale of an impossible murder (and several non-impossible ones) set around Alexander The Great’s sacking of Thebes. A bit grimmer than some of Doherty’s other output, but well worth tracking down – especially for the locked room, which is one of his best.

Other General Recommendations:

Well, there we go. That should be enough to keep you going. Almost all of these will be out as ebooks by the end of November (most of them are out now) so I do hope you give the history-mystery a chance and check them out.


  1. First of all, well done on your third century chum – you’re looking very good on it may I say! Fantastic list of Doherty titles. I have yet to succumb to the promise (and premise) of e-books but it is clearly unavoidable! Keep up the good work Steve.


    • Completely forgot to thank you, Sergio, for directing me to Doherty. There are so many other books that could be only this list – and unlike the other top five posts, nothing that I could put as “books to avoid”


  2. I haven’t tried Doherty but your enthusiasm for his writing does encourage me to do that. It may be a while, I do have to whittle down some of my large backlog of TBR books first. Will be checking out your other top 5 lists because I do have some Agatha Christie reading in my plans, and a lot of her books in the TBR piles.


  3. Thanks for directing me to this list, Steve! I’m happy to say I’ve acquired several more titles that are on this list thanks to your individual reviews of the books (I took notes), and have several others on order.


  4. […] This felt like a short novel and it’s a cracking read. Yes, I say that about nearly every Paul Doherty tale that I read, but there’s a good reason for that. If you want an introduction to his work, you could do a lot worse than try this out – for 99p, what could go wrong? Apart from generating the need to read the 100-plus novels that he’s written of course. I fell victim to that, thanks to Sergio, but if you enjoy this one, then there are some suggestions as to where to start here. […]


Leave a Reply to #160: The Tuesday Night Bloggers – Who Can You Trust? Verisimilitude in Paul Doherty’s A Murder in Thebes (1998) | The Invisible Event Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.