Tag Archives: Sir Jack Cranston

The Mansions of Murder

29 Oct

Paul Doherty’s most recent Brother Athelstan is a classic locked room mystery. Something he does very well.

Athelstan and Sir Jack Cranston must work out who killed the priest of St Benet’s Queenshithe, and how it ties in with the legacy of a deceased parishoner of Athelstan’s.

After month’s of fretting about the death of a parishoner, because over the years I have developed a fondness for a number of the character’s, I shouldn’t have worried. The parishoner was a very minor one who was mostly mentioned in passing in earlier books.

“The Mansions of Murder” is a gripping thriller, which, unlike previous books, has very few humourous moments to lighten the atmosphere.

The scene with Pike and Watkins in the tavern with Jack Cranston and Athelstan has raised some interesting questions for the future.

Can’t quite bring myself to give it 5 stars, because it doesn’t reach my bench mark of “The Great Revolt” as being an extraordinary Athelstan novel.

 

The Great Revolt

13 Jun

“The Great Revolt” by Paul Doherty is the latest in the Brother Athelstan series of mysteries.

It has finally come… the Peasant’s Revolt has reached London.  John of Gaunt has gone north, ostensibly to go to war against Scotland, leaving London and Richard II undefended.  Sir Jack Cranston is at the young king’s side, and Athelstan is in the midst of turmoil again.

This time someone has murdered a member of the community at the Dominican house at Blackfriars.  Athelstan is called back to Blackfrairs to find the killer, and to act as Devil’s Advocate in the matter of the possible beatification/cannonisation of Edward II.  Meanwhile, London is burning around them, and someone has abducted the men of the parish of St Erconwalds!

“The Great Revolt” is the culmination of the massive story arc that Paul has been writing for damn near 20 years.

Prior Anslem, who has been a minor presence in a few of the books, has a fairly major role this time.  The character proved to be very likeable and I hope we see more of him in future Athelstan books.

I have read a lot of books about the Peasant’s Revolt.  Both fiction and non fiction.  But this book is the only one that has made me see the destruction, and feel the misery and terror welling around it.  As Athelstan, Jack Cranston, and Benedicta venture around both the City and Southwark, you get to see through their eyes the devastation, and murder, that was visited on the people.

If you read one novel about the Peasant’s Revolt this year, make it this one.  The intensity and depth are incredible.

Highly recommended.

The Herald of Hell

26 Nov

“The Herald of Hell” is the best Paul Doherty novel in ages.

The plot takes place literally days before the Great Revolt of 1381.  So the atmosphere of the book is one of danger and fear.

A clerk from the secret chancery of John of Gaunt is murdered in a brothel. His servant seeks sanctuary at St Erconwalds and is also murdered.  All hell is breaking loose and only Sir Jack Cranston and Brother Athelstan stand in its path.

Well written, fast paced, and damn near unputdownable.  “The Herald of Hell” had me on the edge of my seat many times.

As always, Paul loves his little inside jokes.  He ties the first Hugh Corbett novel, “Satan in St Marys” into the framework of this book.  And, as is his wont, his home town gets a mention.  I think he’s worked it into just about every novel he’s written.

The next book in the series is apparently going to be called “The Great Revolt”, we know how it ends, but I am sure we will loose many of Athelstan’s parishioners before that book ends.  But suffice to say that, in this book, we don’t loose anyone we have come to love, but there is at least one hell of a shock for long time readers of the series.

Highly recommended.  Fantastic book.

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