In 1304, Sir Hugh Corbett walked away from his post as Keeper of the Secret Seal, having had enough of Edward I’s machinations. Now, seven years later, and Edward’s son is on the throne, the dangerous Edward II. His games are threatening to plunge England into civil war and Sir Hugh is about to be drawn back into a life of danger.
In Godstow, Sir Hugh’s friend and associate Ranulph-atte-Newgate stands accused of the murder of a nun. Sent there to investigate one novice’s disappearance, he befriended a second novice, only for her to be found dead in the centre of a near-unnavigable maze, shot in the head by Ranulph’s own crossbow. In order to save his friend, Sir Hugh will have to resume his role as the King’s investigator – and track down a ruthless killer whose work may well not be over…
Hurrah! Sir Hugh Corbett is back. After six years away, Sir Hugh is going to return in novel form in Dark Serpent next month (and much more on that when it comes out!) but to set the scene and whet our tastebuds, Paul has written and released this e-novella.
Let’s address that bit first – a novella. Amazon claims it’s 62 pages long (a pointless measure on an ebook) but it didn’t feel like it when I was reading it. For 99p, you get an involving, complex mystery, with a number of suspects and a satisfying solution, an insight into Sir Hugh’s thinking at returning to his role, along with flashes of a ruthless streak when it comes to punishing the guilty – there’s one line towards the end of the book that sent a chill down my spine.
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.
As ever, the history leaps off the page. Fascinating historical fact of the day: As pilgrimages abroad became more difficult (due to, for example, war), sites in England were elevated in status – hence the maze, which the penitent would be expected to crawl to the centre of as his pilgrimage.
One thing that I’m curious about – this book is set in 1311, between books 2 and 3 of the short Mathilde of Westminster series, which also features Edward II. I wonder – are we going to get an appearance of Mathilde in the upcoming novel?
There are more Corbett and Athelstan novels on the way, but this is a great way of passing the time until they get here. Obviously, this is Highly Recommended.