Wednesday, 13 January 1999

Paul Harding: Murder Most Holy (1992)

Edition: Headline, 1992
Review number: 185

One of the disadvantages to attempting to read a series of novels from a public library is that it is extremely difficult to read them in the correct order. This is why I have only just made it to reading the third of Paul Harding's "Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan", even though I have already read several later novels in the series.

Murder Most Holy is in fact three separate murder mysteries, which simultaneously test the abilities of the London coroner Sir John Cranston and his friend, the Dominican friar Athelstan. One is theoretical, a puzzle set Cranston by the Lord of Cremona, visiting London, as a bet; it is a locked room mystery. One involves a skeleton dug up during renovation at Athelstan's Southwark church, St Erconwalds, in danger of being thought to be the miracle-working remains of the saint himself. The main mystery is set at the friary of Blackfriars, where Athelstan himself had trained. There, a series of senior friars have been killed during the investigation into a thesis in theology presented by one of them which has to be defended against possible heresy charges.

The medieval background is as well done as ever, and the mysteries are interesting; an excellent member of the series.

No comments: