cover image Spy in Chancery

Spy in Chancery

Paul C. Doherty. St. Martin's Press, $14.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-312-02984-5

Doherty once again makes 13th century England and France come vividly alive with this tale, based on a true incident, of skulduggery and treason in the courts of England, France and Scotland. Edward I of England orders senior clerk Hugh Corbett to find the traitor in his council who is informing Philip IV of France of his every move and decision. Relations between the countries are strained: the French king has seized Edward's French possession, the Duchy of Gascony, and is fomenting revolt among the recently pacified Welsh and Scots. Corbett, who has previously performed similar tasks for his king ( Satan in St. Mary's ), goes to France, where he encounters an old enemy, Amaury de Craon, special envoy of the French crown and architect of the treasonous plot. Corbett finds evidence pointing to the Earl of Richmond and to Ralph Waterton, a clerk of suspect wealth, but none of the evidence is strong, and Corbett doubts its source. Sent to Wales to find out if the Lord Morgan is plotting a revolt, the dour widower fails again to find firm information, although he does fall in love with Lord Morgan's niece Maeve, who appears to return his affection. Eventually, solid detective work and a flash of inspiration unearth the traitor. Skillfully spinning his complex, involving tale, Doherty draws readers completely into medieval life and politics. ( May )