cover image Murder Wears a Cowl: A Medieval Mystery Featuring Hugh Corbett

Murder Wears a Cowl: A Medieval Mystery Featuring Hugh Corbett

Paul C. Doherty / Author St. Martin's Press $20.95 (249p) ISBN

It is 1302 and England's Edward I is plagued by a revolt in Scotland, by the aggressive Philip IV of France and by the London slayings of a saintly old widow, a venerable priest and a string of prostitutes by ``someone . . . holy,'' clad in a monk's cowl and sandals. (And although the king doesn't know it yet, someone has breached the supposedly impenetrable crypt at Westminster Abbey where the royal treasury lies hidden.) So Hugh Corbett, trusted Master of Clerks and Keeper of the Secret Seal, is tapped to unravel his sixth medieval mystery, following The Prince of Darkness. Prowling dark streets, visiting taverns and the Tower, hospitals and the Abbey, traveling by horseback on high roads and by barge on the misty Thames, he encounters cutpurses and cutthroats, Philip's evil emissary de Craon, master criminal Puddlicott, legless beggar Ragwort (who sleeps beneath dangling corpses at the hanging ground) and others in Doherty's large colorful cast. Despite occasional illogical plot devices and extraneous material, Doherty enthralls readers with vividly realized sights, sounds and stenches of 14th-century London and his graphic action set-pieces. Series hero Corbett is based on the real-life John de Droxford and most of the events described actually happened. (Mar.)