Set in December 1303, Doherty's intricate 15th Hugh Corbett mystery (after 2009's The Magician's Death) opens after a prologue with Hugh, keeper of the secret seal of Edward I, riding into the snowbound cathedral city of Canterbury, where Sir Rauf Decontet has been murdered, perhaps by his adulterous wife. More killings follow that appear to originate in the slaying three years earlier of a pirate, Adam Blackstock, on his vessel The Waxman. A missing treasure map adds to the intrigue. An entire family is found hanged while their bodyguard has disappeared, and a spy who disguises himself as a leper also turns up dead. In addition to a richly detailed medieval courtroom scene, the prolific Doherty provides, as usual, a tantalizing locked-room puzzle. Historical mystery fans will cheer as Corbett sifts through a "farrago of half-truths" and sees to the rout of the "criminals, wolfsheads and outlaws he pursued on behalf of the Crown." (Dec.)
Paul Doherty was born in Middlesbrough. He studied History at Liverpool and Oxford Universities and obtained a doctorate for his thesis on Edward II and Queen Isabella. He is now headmaster of a school in north-east London and lives with his family in Essex.