cover image The Prince of Darkness

The Prince of Darkness

Paul C. Doherty / Author St. Martin's Press $18.95 (247p) ISBN

In the summer of 1300, the body of Eleanor Belmont is found lifeless in the Oxfordshire nunnery to which she was confined after her lover, the Prince of Wales, was officially betrothed to the French king's daughter. Fearful that the peace between England and France may be compromised by rumors that Eleanor's death was the work of the prince and/or his ruthless, ambitious male lover, King Edward I of England sends his clerk Hugh Corbett to investigate. Corbett, a spoiler of court intrigues in Angel of Death and three previous medieval mysteries, here must solve a second murder in a plot so murky that at several points he carefully itemizes developments for the undoubtedly grateful reader. Nonetheless this is a fascinating and successful historical novel: Doherty seldom belabors the setting, choosing instead to let time and place gently wash over his audience as he offers subtle observations. The presence of a few too many villains leads to a cluttered conclusion, but Doherty brings a sense of humanity to all his characters, particularly the appealing Corbett: a loyal servant, a devoted husband (in the face of a surprisingly alluring lady in a habit) and an astute detective. ( Jan. )