To all my readers,

Every happiness and success for the New Year and beyond.  I do hope you and your families are well and not too blighted by the dreaded Covid.  I am on holiday at the moment from my day job as a headteacher but I have been fairly busy writing.  There is a new Athelstan coming out later in the Spring “The Hanging Tree”.  When I was devising the plot I kept thinking of Chaucer’s much quoted phrase, “the love of riches is the root of all evil”.  Chaucer then brilliantly develops this in his “The Pardoners Tale”.

During the Middle Ages, there was no cyber crime but where there was wealth, there was certainly mischief.  The royal household had their own guardians to protect costly items and every king wanted an arca, a fortified strongroom to hoard and protect their wealth.  Nevertheless, despite their best efforts, the lure of easy pickings attracted those who lived in the twilight world; the slums of Whitefriars, or those lurking in the kennels of Southward just across the Thames.  Edward I had a brilliant idea to store his wealth in the crypt at Westminster Abbey.  I have been there, basically an underground cavern.  You go down a spiral staircase with a massive gap which could only be spanned by a portable bridge.  Nevertheless in 1305, a group of enterprising ruffians broke in and stole the crown jewels!  ‘The Hanging Tree’ I hope, more than illustrates that where there’s wealth, there’s mischief, often murderous.  John of Gaunt, self-styled regent of the Kingdom during the minority of his nephew, has amassed silver coin to pay off the Crown’s debts (in truth really his).  He stores this in an arca which is guarded by two heavy doors, a steep spiral staircase, trip cords, entry and departure being governed by the sounding of a bell.  The treasure is still taken.

Other mischief is being perpetrated in London.  The Guild of Hangmen, who have just finished a frenetic spate of business after the Peasant’s Revolt, are finding themselves in great danger.  Members of the guild are found stripped naked with a knife thrust to the heart, their corpses thrown on some city dung heap.  Cranston and Athelstan are summoned to investigate this wrong doing and they enter a world of murderous mayhem, greed and violence.

I finished that some months ago and am now working on a new Corbett novel.  This time our Keeper of the Secret Seal is despatched to St. Michaels Abbey in Berkshire where a beautiful diamond, ‘The Glory of Heaven, venerated by all has been stolen.  The Novel is set in 1312, a truly hurling time in English history.  Edward II is deeply infatuated with his gascon favourite Peter Gaveston.  Across the Narrow Seas, Philip of France, who has destroyed the Templar Order, dreams his dreams of empire rejoicing in the fact that his daughter Isabella, married to Edward II, is expecting her first child.  Philip prays that it’s a boy, that he will have a grandson who will wear the English Crown and sit on the Confessor’s throne at Westminster.  All in all, these are murderous tales, set in the glorious yet grotesque world of the Middle Ages.

My third series featuring Margaret Beaufort has reached its third tale, ‘Dark Queen Watching’.  This received a star review from Publishers Weekly and I do recommend it to all my readers.

Anyway, I thought it best to send you a few lines.

Once again, my best regards to you and yours.

Happy reading!

Paul Doherty