A young woman, Lady Isolda Beaumont is condemned for the murder of her powerful merchant husband and burned alive at the stake. Walter 'Black' Beaumont, an expert in canons, was known to hold the secret to creating explosive fires, and was rumoured to have Mark the Greek's 'Book of Fires' stolen from the Greek emperor in Constantinople. The Book contained the secret of Greek Fire, a highly volatile substance that will ignite even when thrown on water.
Isolda's judges are being attacked, doused by a mysterious liquid, set alight and burnt alive by a mysterious harbinger of destruction . Are those with old and malignant grudges and discord seeking retribution?
Brother Athelston with his old friend and sleuth Sir a John Cranston are caught up in the mystery behind the murder of the merchant and the attacks on the judges.
Brother Athelston is also stunned by a sudden miracle in his church. A man crippled and burnt down one side is suddenly healed!
At the same time many of his parishioners are caught up in the movement of the Upright Men against John of Gaunt, against the deprivation that they are being forced to endure.
The mystery deepens, plots intertwine and Athelston's patience and understanding are stretched to the limit by the momentous happenings that are brought into play.
Doherty's writing is tight, his descriptive prose has the conditions of the times leaping off the page. One can feel the squalor and turgid surroundings of the streets through which Athelston trudges. Athelston's humble abode is a tranquil pool of stillness amongst the tensions of the surrounding countryside.
A NetGalley ARC