The House Of Shadows by Paul Doherty

The House Of Shadows1360, Southwark. The great treasure of the Lombards, borrowed to finance a crusade, was stolen, vanished into thin air along with its guardians. And in the graveyard of St Erconwald’s, the courtesan Guinevere the Golden, dreaming of riches, meets a nasty end…

Jump forward twenty years and the Knights of the Golden Falcon have assembled at the tavern known as the Night In Jerusalem for their annual reunion. As the revels take place, two courtesans are found murdered in the stables and Sir Stephen Chandler is found poisoned in his bath. As the thief known as the Misericord and the bounty hunter know as The Judas Man dance around each other, the body count begins to rise. As Brother Athelstan and John Cranston investigate, it seems all roads lead back to the long-lost treasure…

The tenth of the twelve Brother Athelstan mysteries, and the last one for me to read. I was saving it for a severe case of reader’s block – so, was it worth the wait?

Mostly – but only mostly in a good way.

As I’ve made it clear before now, this is one of my favourite series of murder mysteries. The combination of the historical setting, the complex mystery plot and the characters of Athelstan, Cranston and his parishoners always combine to provide an entertaining read and this is no exception.

With everything focussed on the single plot – there’s no subplot in this one – Paul Doherty takes advantage to provide a deeper and more involved plot that in some of the other plots. The locked room aspect of the murder of Sir Stephen is pretty basic, but the overall picture of what is going on and who is involved with what is the focus here.

The only disappointment was to match the involved plot, I developed a “wonderful” convoluted theory to match the plot. Disappointingly, my theory was totally wrong, and the solution appeared to be a bit… straightforward. To be honest, I’m not sure if I found it like this due to my mad theory not being correct, but the best complicated build-ups need a simple resolution.

But this was a compulsive page-turner – exactly what I’d expect from an Athelstan mystery. While not up there with the best in the series – By Murder’s Bright Light or The House Of Crows, for example, but it still comes Highly Recommended.


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