Newsletter July 2018

Greetings to all my readers both at home and abroad. My deepest apologies for not being in touch sooner, but its been a very hectic year in education and there has been a gap in my novels published by both Severn House and Hodder Headline.

My last Athelstan novel “the Mansions of Murder,” was about the rifflers, the great gangs which could, and did, terrify the living daylights out of Medieval London. One chronicler called them, “The many headed beast.” What made the situation even more dangerous was that the great lords and the powerful men of the city, were not above using the London mob for their own nefarious ends.

I have submitted another Athelstan novel, “The Godless.” My publishers at Severn House are delighted with it. This time Athelstan has to confront and deal with serious sins and cruel crimes from the past. Edward III and his son the Black Prince led their armies into France and, for many English soldiers it was open season when it came to plunder, taking ransoms and ransacking castles, towns, churches or whatever was at hand. A flow of wealth from France to England made many a family’s fortune. However, such abominations do not go away. They lurk in the darkest recesses then spring like a trap as the past catches up with those responsible for unatoned sins. In “The Godless” Athelstan and Cranston become more than aware of these ancient blood-reeking crimes as well the existence of a most sinister serial killer, the Oriflamme who committed hideous acts along the banks of the river Seine in Normandy and has now appeared in London sowing a fresh harvest of murder along the Thames.

My most recent novel published at the end of June marks a change. “Dark Queen Rising” is about Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII and, in my view, the real founder of the Tudor dynasty. In 1471, as the opening of my novel describes, the fortunes of Tudor and the House of Lancaster were completely shattered by the great Yorkist victory at Tewksbury. This violent battle brought down most of the leading Lancastrians whilst Henry Tudor could only save himself by fleeing abroad. Margaret, however, does not give up her dream of making her son king. Despite the opposition of the charismatic Edward of York, his warlike brother Richard of Gloucester and the deep, twisted cunning of George Clarence, Margaret will plot until the Wheel of Fortune is given another spin. Clarence proves to be a most vicious enemy. He sees his struggle with Margaret as a fight to the death and Margaret responds in kind. Clarence can call on all the power of the crown and the support of his warlike brothers. Margaret has to depend on faithful clerks, men such as Reginald Bray and, above all Christopher Urswicke. Margaret’s greatest weapon however, are her own keen brain and very sharp wits. Margaret, in my novel as she was in real life, is depicted as a most redoubtable woman. A patron of the arts (she founded colleges at Cambridge), a very shrewd administrator and, in the last resort, the most skilful intriguer. Margaret with the help of Urswicke intends to bring the House of York to destruction and the true claims of her own son, recognised and accepted. In the main, the novel is presented from the viewpoint of Urswicke, a true henchman of his mistress and as cunning and ruthless as her. Urswicke in fact fully deserves his reputation of being the founder of the English Secret Service…….

I do hope you enjoy all these books. At the moment I am working on a new Corbett, “The Valley of Shadows,” where Corbett is imprisoned in a snow-bound abbey fortress…. But more of that next time! Until then, happy reading.

My kindest regards to you all,

Paul Doherty OBE