NEWSLETTER MAY 2024

My Dear gentle reader

I do apologise for not writing earlier.  I presume that you are still interested in receiving a newsletter from me.  If I have presumed wrongly, then I apologise and will remove your name from the mailing list, should you wish.

Life has certainly been very busy in my other incarnation as a Headmaster of a large comprehensive school on the borders of east London.  Sometimes I draw gentle amusement from the paradox.  Here am I who, during the day, works as a catholic headmaster, whilst at night I plot the most devious, blood splattered murders.  I enter the murky world of Whitefriars, a close spectator of all those colourful characters who swarmed through London in the fourteenth century.  I have just despatched the latest Athelstan to my publisher.  Thanks be to God, they have accepted it for publication.  I thoroughly enjoyed writing it.  I think it’s full of twists and turns as Brother Athelstan and Sir John Cranston deal with the legacy of ancient sin.  London in the late 1380’s had become the home ground of the great English Lords who had eventually been driven out of France.  During the English presence there, the most savage fighting took place.  Little mercy was shown.  One example will suffice.  Edward the Black Prince, son of the warlike Edward III, proved to be as great a killer as his father.  He lay siege to Limoges.  The defenders thought they could allow non combatants out of the city and that the Black Prince would let them pass safely through English lines.  He did not.  He penned these unfortunates between his camp and the city walls and basically let them starve.  A modern commentator maintained that the English presence, particularly in Normandy between 1337 and 1440 was even more hideous than that of the Nazis during the Second World War.  Heinous crimes were committed and these ancient, unforgotten sins, cried to heaven for vengeance and justice.   Cranston and Athelstan have to confront this challenge as well as murderous mischief in Athelstan’s home parish of St. Erconwald’s in Southwark.

Now, on to Corbett.  Sir Hugh has been very busy dealing with the aftermath of the judicial murder of Peter Gaveston, Edward II’s ‘beloved brother’: a royal favourite, whose life and death defined the life of his royal master Edward II.  Gaveston was executed at Blacklow Hill in 1312.  Edward never forgot or forgave the indignities heaped upon his favourite by the great barons led by the King’s cousin, Earl Thomas of Lancaster.  Edward was so infatuated with Gaveston that he had his favourite’s corpse mummified and refused to have it buried until ordered to do so by the church.

If Edward’s barons were troublesome, the city of London was even more so.  The great city merchants dreamed dreams of London evolving into a great independent city state like those of Northern Italy such as Milan and Genoa.  Corbett has to confront such ambitions with their  direct challenge to the power of the Crown.

I thoroughly enjoyed writing both novels.  I only hope that you enjoy their reading.  I am now writing a new Corbett which covers the sinister intrigue of the dissolution of the Templar Order and the vicious in-fighting at the court of Philip IV of France.  I am pleased with the way things are going and I just hope the story blossoms and takes you my readers back to those hurling times.

Now and again, I am tempted to take a break from writing medieval mysteries to explore a theme which has always fascinated me.  Life after Death.  The journey of souls and the possibility of reincarnation.  I have sketched out a possible plot for a book entitled ‘The man who spoke to Ghosts’.  It is about a nineteenth century catholic priest who can clearly see ghosts and enters their world.  Perhaps one day…..

Anyway, I hope you are all well.  If it’s any comfort, the summer of 2024 is very similar to that of 1316!  Rain, rain, rain!  There must be a break in it soon.  I do hope so.

Pax et Bonum to you all.

My kindest regards,

 

Paul Doherty