Here's another newly-written book that should gladden the hearts of classic mystery lovers: I've recently finished reading a new mystery by historian, English school headmaster, and amazingly prolific writer Paul C. Doherty. Candle Flame is the thirteenth addition to his series of historical mysteries set in London during the reign of King Richard II. The books are known collectively as "The Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan."
In Candle-Flame, Brother Athelstan, who is the assistant to the royal coroner, Sir John Cranston, is called upon by a furious and frightened Regent, John of Gaunt, to solve a series of bloody murders - including the massacre of nine people in and around a sealed and bolted tower that could not possibly have been entered or exited. As the dead include Gaunt's tax collectors - and their collections are missing - Gaunt wants Athelstan and Sir John to find the killer and the treasure. It is possible that the killings were the work of a shadowy killer known only as "Beowulf," a sworn enemy to Gaunt.
All this is set against the sights and sounds - and, most definitely, the smells of London. And it is very much in the classic tradition of puzzle mysteries, with memorable characters, set in a London in deep turmoil, where the downtrodden population appears to be on the verge of bloody revolt against the crown. All that - and a great impossible crime mystery as well!
The official publication date for Candle-Flame is July 1 of this year, and the publisher, Severn House, kindly provided me with an advanced e-book version for this review. It's an excellent read. There's more blood and violence than I'm usually comfortable with - but, in fairness to Doherty, there are excellent reasons for his presenting the murders and executions in the way he does present them. I think anyone who enjoys a fine traditional locked-room mystery - particularly a historical one set in a very turbulent time in English history - will enjoy this one,