cover image The Death of a King: A Medieval Mystery

The Death of a King: A Medieval Mystery

Paul C. Doherty. St. Martin's Press, $12.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-312-18651-7

Doherty's first novel, nothing less than a tour de force, draws the reader into England in 1344, 17 years after the overthrow of King Edward II. A dreadful series of events is chronicled in the letters of a clerk, Edmund Beche, ordered by Edward II to investigate his father's murder and to reveal nothing of what he learns except to his sovereign. Beche, however, confides the account of his odyssey to a trusted friend, prior of a great abbey, as ""security in the event of my disappearance or trial for treason.'' The clerk's fears are well-founded. Assassins dog his steps during his journeys in search fo evidence that Edward II was the victim of his adulterous queen and her paramour. The assignment takes Beche from England to France and Rome where he survives lethal attacks and uncovers an astounding truth not only about the betrayed monarch but about traitors among the English royalty. Beautifully written and thoroughly researched, the novel compels belief and rouses admiration for the author. January 28