War of the Roses

THE MIDNIGHT MAN has now just been published. I am very pleased with it; I just hope you readers agree! I do think the medieval era lends itself to both the Gothic and the Ghoulish as well as providing a marvellous stage on which to develop a complex murder mystery. I am also working on the final draft of my novel about the last days of Henry VIII (THE LAST OF DAYS). I have studied this monster time and again, he can still surprise me! In 1513 James IV was killed at Flodden; his corpse was found by Henry’s commander, Surrey, and brought to London after being embalmed at Berwick. However, probably because he was excommunicated, James’s corpse was never buried but kept in a cellar right up into the reign of Elizabeth I. Apparently some workmen found it and played football with the head. Eventually it was given some form of Christian burial in a London church.

Nevertheless, if Henry was bad, those who surrounded him, e.g. the Dudleys and the Seymours, were no better. They do remind me of the Mafioso: they have that same combination of superficial religion and deep psychopathic tendencies. Indeed this is my view of many of the nobility at the time which, hopefully, I will explore in greater depth in my planned novel on the War of the Roses. I don’t think this idea is far-fetched. When I was studying for my doctorate at Oxford, I remember getting into constant trouble because I had developed such a theory! Nevertheless, the facts speak for themselves, nor do I think it was just the nobles. It is surprising how quickly certain powerful London merchants could whistle up their gangs, the “rifflers”, the “roaring boys”, the “squires of the sewers”, to create mayhem and murder. Gangland bosses may be a 20th century term, but they were certainly alive and well and flourishing most murderously in the 15th century. Prime examples are the Woodvilles. The voluptuous Elizabeth Woodville ensnared Edward IV into marriage and this immediately brought her family into confrontation with the factions and gangs of her husband’s two brothers, George of Clarence and Richard of Gloucester. I look forward to developing this in the very near future in a suitably murderous medieval way!

Kindest regards to you,

Paul Doherty OBE


wpc479d2ec_05_06BLOODSTONE is about to hit the shops. I am really pleased Athelstan is back, he has to investigate grisly gruesome murders against a vivid backdrop of London in the freezing winter of 1380. Athelstan was living in dangerous times; England was moving, not towards a clash between the great barons, but those who called themselves the Earthworms, the poor, the marginalised. A few months later, the entire southeast of England erupted into revolt. Athelstan will, one day, have to make choices about what side he is on. I’m currently finishing another in that series, THE STRAW MEN; this is mainly based in the Tower. I thoroughly enjoyed doing the research on this and came across a most interesting entry. Apparently, the Royal Menagerie was kept there; this included lions and leopards, gifts to the King from rulers in the Middle East. However, one gift must have surprised Londoners (as well as the elephant), a gift from the king of Norway, a huge polar bear which was allowed to swim in the moat! Naturally, the bear makes an appearance in THE STRAW MEN!

The MIDNIGHT MAN (to be published early 2012) is another of my Canterbury tales, and it led me to investigate the seedy underbelly of medieval superstition; some very, very dark figures lurked there. I certainly wouldn’t like to have tea with them, or worse meet them in a cemetery at the dead of night, sinister souls with dark designs and even darker ambitions. I enjoyed writing it so much this led me onto other research. Soon I hope to return to one novel I’ve always wanted to have published about the last days of Henry VIII, in my view one of England’s greatest serial killers……. Was he murdered–-like Stalin by those around him? Was he thrown into his tomb at Windsor? Interestingly, when they brought Nelson’s corpse back from Trafalgar, they remembered a beautiful marble tomb lying empty at Windsor. It was first meant for Wolsey (but he fell from power) then Henry VIII (but they wanted him out of the way – fast!) Anyway – Nelson got it! Funny old life – isn’t it?

Last of Days

November is the month of Remembrance; the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness is fast giving way to harsh winter.

Four hundred and sixty-six years ago this November, Henry VIII was locked in intrigue, plot and counter-plot in his palace at Westminster. Henry knew he was about to die and the Wolves on his council could sense blood. For the next three months London, England and Europe watched the macabre masque unfold and the grisly dance swirl about. I merely mention this as I am about to submit my novel, “The Last of Days” to Headline. This is the Journal of Will Somers, Henry VIII’s jester, who describes the murky politics surrounding his dying king. I do hope readers will enjoy and be fascinated by his compelling story.

At the same time I have nearly finished ‘Roseblood’ which is set in London in 1455. The city is a bubbling pot of intrigue. Henry VI is losing his mind and the reins of Government are fast falling into the hands of his beautiful but ruthless young queen, Margaret of Anjou. Margaret depends heavily on the Beauforts. Indeed there are whispers that Lord Beaufort is Margaret’s secret lover and the true father of her son Edward. From the North Country, Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, and other war lords watch the politics of London as a cat would a mouse hole. York argues that should the king’s wits fail, he, not Beaufort, should be Protector of the realm. Of course Richard dreams visions of an Empire where, perhaps York, not Lancaster, wears the crown. In London, the great families are divided.The gang leaders are preparing to whistle up their followers. It is the time of the dagger, the blood feud and, above all a unique opportunity for advancement, riches and power. Simon Roseblood, owner of the ‘Roseblood’ tavern in Queenhithe close to the river, realises war is coming. Simon’s allegiance and that of his family are to Lancaster and the Beauforts, who have set him a number of tasks, which draw him into a maze of murderous mayhem….. Simon not only has to counter the power of York, the intrigues of the city and the sinister presence of Amadeus Sevigne. Ghosts from the past also gather close; harbingers of fury from Simon’s blood-soaked days as a soldier in France. I am enjoying writing ‘Roseblood’ immensely.

I am also very pleased to see so many of my tales coming out as e-books. I do hope all is well with all my readers. I thank you for reading this.

Kindest regards,
Dr P.C. Doherty OBE

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