A Feast Of Poisons by C L Grace aka Paul Doherty

A Feast Of PoisonsLouis XI of France, the “Spider”, has a hold over the English court. An English agent, carrying the Book of Ciphers has vanished without trace in Paris. Claiming to have the book, he sends three agents to Kent to negotiate with Lord Henry Beauchamp, the Keeper of the Secret Seal, the spymaster of Edward IV. But Lord Henry has his own games to play…

The newlywed Kathryn Swinbrooke is summoned to the negotiations to uncover the truth behind a letter from Henry’s dead wife that accuses the Lord of murdering her – only it has been sent recently despite being written in her own handwriting and with her own seal. But before she can look into that, a spate of murders breaks out in the nearby village of Walmer. The blacksmith and his wife are both poisoned at the same time, with different poison, and it seems that the village council have been targeted – this is only the beginning of the deaths. The village has a history of violence – from the execution of a group of wreckers to the slaying of three Lancastrian refugees from the Battle of Tewkesbury. It seems that the worse is yet to come…

And so another series from Paul Doherty comes to a close. This was originally published, I believe, only in the USA and only in hardback, written under the pseudonym C L Grace. I have no idea why as it’s not as if it’s a departure in style for the author. It’s a different era – early in the reign of Edward IV – than his other medieval series, but other than that, it’s the same format. Several mysteries – at least two separate plots running simultaneously with a hint of impossibility of some of the crimes – and a high death count. Add in the vibrant medieval background, and you’ve another book in the same vein as the Hugh Corbett and Brother Athelstan. And that can’t be a bad thing…

Oh, to clarify, while this was an absolute swine to find for a long time, the entire series – all of which I’ve reviewed on the blog – is now available as ebooks, along with a load of other obscurities from his back catalogue. But back to this one…

It’s one of the best of the series. The politics part is intriguing, with some clever games being played on both sides. The poisonings in the town are a more traditional whodunit and the murderer is pretty well hidden. The plots do tie together, but I could see the game being played with this part of the plot. Nonetheless, the overall plot of the book never stops moving forward and there’s plenty for the armchair sleuth to guess at.

As it will come to no surprise to any regular readers of the blog, this is another medieval mystery that comes Highly Recommended. If you’re a fan of Cadfael, then I strongly recommend you try this book – or any of the others from Paul Doherty. Because you’re in for a treat.


  1. I didn’t know C.L. Grace was Paul Doherty. Anyway, I love medieval mysteries, and I’ll definitely keep this series in mind. Right now, I’m hung up on Priscilla Royal’s series, and well, a few others like Jason Vail and Martin Jensen. 🙂


    • Paul is also Anna Apostolou and Ann Dukthas – but the books written under those names are now available as ebooks under his own name. There’s another pseudonym as well… Vanessa Alexander, I think, but I don’t think those are mysteries.

      I need to get back to Priscilla Royal and I’ve got Vail’s first one on my Kindle. Not heard of Jensen – I’ll look him up. Thanks.


      • Just read a couple of reviews of The King’s Hounds – sounds interesting but 100% the translation issues raised by a number of reviewers would do my head in. Maybe one day…


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