'The Great Slaughter', that's how Athelstan refers to the Peasants Revolt of 1831. Wat Tyler, John Bull, the Upright men, the Earthworms, plots and counterplots, all are grist for the mill in this latest mystery that sets Athelstan's brain afire and heart pounding.
Brother Athelstan has been called away from his flock at an untimely hour to Blackfriars Monastry to solve a murder. Athelstan fears for his parishioners of St Erconwald's. Many are deeply mired in the revolt and Athelstan wants to protect them.
At Grefriars he finds a slain brother, Alberic, who has been investigating the possible canonization of Edward II, the current king's great grandfather. Secrets of this past are trespassers upon the plots of now.
Aspects of the revolt Brother Athelstan describes recall scenes from Dantes Inferno or the pictures of Hironymous Bosch. The revolt is vivid and brutal. The atmosphere is taught. Men and women are dying cruelly as neighbour turns on neighbour. All is chaos and anarchy.
Brother Athelstan is in the thick of things. More murders are occurring inside the walls of the monastry, targets are those investigating Edward II.
But then Athelstan receives more disturbing news. His parishioners have disappeared.
His old friend Sir John Cranston is by his side, assisting Athelstan whilst ever conscious of his duty to his King and London, both he is sworn to protect.
Athelstan is troubled on many fronts. The Revolt, the safety of his parishioners; in particular one old fleming woman who's meanderings take on new meaning. Devilish murders and old treacheries collide as those deaths reach back into the past effecting the now and future.
Once more, an 'oh so' descriptive and fabulously masterful read, steeped in history, from Dougherty!