Thursday 14 June 2012

Paul Doherty

The last author I blogged on gave us two for the price of one - mother and daughter writing as PJ Tracy, today's author gives us even more, for Paul Doherty is prolific under that name and several others.

Doherty is a historian, writer of historical fiction and school headmaster. The first contributes to the second as he has produced a large body of enjoyable and historically accurate novels under his various noms de plume. The third hasn't as yet led to any books - I'm sure though that there'll be something one day.

The first set of Doherty books I've come across is "The Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan". Set in England (chiefly London) at the end of the 14th century, these feature Dominican friar Athelstan and coroner Sir John Cranston as they investigate murder and robbery in the teeming metropolis. Athelstan is priest of St Erconwald's, sent there long ago as penance by his order. He is scrivener to Sir John, a bibulous figure but keen enough and handy with his sword - necessary in a time of rogues and footpads.

I have two tests for such novels: do they depict the times accurately and well, and would the plot and its solution stand alone without the historical trappings? Short answer for Doherty is yes and yes. you can smell the blood and ordure from the streets, he's good on the politics of the time (John of Gaunt as Regent, the nobles and the merchants ruling and prospoering) and his plots are neat and clever.

Applying the usual "would my mother/aged vicar like these?" test, yes would again be the answer. They're almost sex-free, though there are plenty of bawds around. The violence is there but apt, the insults are colourful but archaic. Good fun, good writing - ideal for a winter's night or a train journey.

I mentioned other personas: Doherty also writes as Anna Apostolou, Michael Clynes, Ann Dukthas, C. L. Grace, Paul Harding, and Vanessa Alexander.

Author's own site


vartinnaa said...

AH! Nice to see you enjoyed one of my favorite author! I am picking two Paul Doherty's book for the plane trip (not that I expect any free time but I can hope)

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