candle-flameBrother Athelstan once again dons his habit for a medieval mystery in this dark tale: Candle Flame, by Paul Doherty. It’s the thirteenth book in the Sorrowful Mysteries series featuring the Franciscan monk and the coroner Sir John Cranston.

It’s February 1381, the weather is freezing, but London is boiling with resentment. John of Gaunt is taxing the poor to the point of destitution and the Peasants’ Revolt is looming.  A massacre at the Candle Flame tavern in Southwark claims the lives of nine people – tax collectors, soldiers and prostitutes – no one is spared.

The Regent, John of Gaunt, orders Brother Athelstan to get to the bottom of this classic locked-room mystery. Not only has his treasure trove been stolen and his people murdered, but there may also be a French spy at work. A professional assassin, Beowulf, who has sworn vengeance against Gaunt and his minions, also stalks the shadows. Once again, Athelstan must enter the murky world of murder, where the darkness constantly shifts and no one is who, or what, they seem. This is a dark and oppressive London, filled with suspicion and on the eve of bloody revolution.

It may well be that you know Dr Paul Doherty’s work a lot better than you think: he’s an extremely prolific author. In addition to the popular Brother Athelstan thrillers set in medieval England, he has written mystery novels in a variety of historical settings, from classical Greece to Ancient Egypt. You may know him as C. L. Grace, Paul Harding, Michael Clynes, Ann Dukthas or Anna Apostolou. And if that weren’t enough, he’s also a headteacher, lecturer and eminent historian with a number of non-fiction titles to his name. If want to read top quality historical thrillers, you’re going to need an expert.