From Publishers Weekly
Prolific British author Doherty, whose historicals have ranged as far back in time as ancient Egypt and the age of Alexander the Great, offers an entertaining medieval mystery, the fifth in a series (An Ancient Evil
, etc.) in which Chaucer's Canterbury pilgrims, in the dark of night, trade ghost stories. Three hangings prompt the carpenter to tell a frightening tale of murder, corruption and witchcraft. The carpenter's woodworker hero, Simon Cotterill, who may or may not be "fictional," is forced to join a Gloucester guild of executioners to avoid destitution. The brutal routine of Cotterill's new career is interrupted when the mayor orders the hangmen, under orders of strict secrecy, to execute three witches accused of a string of murders. The hangings, far from ending the menace, result in even more death, and Cotterill is forced to track down the mysterious coven leader responsible. More successful as an occasionally creepy atmospheric thriller than as a whodunit, this entry again demonstrates Doherty's gift for evoking the past.
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Doherty continues his series starring the characters from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
telling the stories Chaucer didn't collect. This time, the carpenter entertains his fellow pilgrims with a frightening story of deception and intrigue involving corrupt hangmen and witches. It seems that not all of those hanged in Gloucester die. When a coven of witches living in the nearby woods goes on a murderous rampage, the judges sentence them to death, but they somehow survive and plot revenge. The carpenter, an apprentice hangman, must figure out what happened before he and everyone else involved in the trial are killed for retribution. As always, Doherty is a master at re-creating the historical period. He captures the eerie atmosphere of the woods, the fear of simple folk who truly believe in the power of evil forces, and the mix of fun and solemnity that sets the mood as the pilgrims travel. A sure thing for fans of medieval mysteries. Barbara BibelCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved