The Magician's Death
A Hugh Corbett Medieval Mystery by P. C. Doherty
Review: Murder, intrigue, conspiracy … these are the hallmarks of the Hugh Corbett mysteries by P. C. Doherty, and all are on brilliant display in The Magician's Death, the 14th medieval mystery in this series.
A previously unknown literary masterpiece, Secretus Secretorum, the Secret of Secrets, by Roger Bacon, has been discovered in France. Thought to contain all the knowledge of the ancients, it is coveted by both the English and French monarchs but is written in a cryptic language. Hugh Corbett, a confidant of Edward I, arranges for the manuscript to be shipped to England where a group of academics will attempt to decipher it. Sequestered in Corfe Castle along the Devonshire coast, the English and French scholars are soon the targets of an unknown assassin. It isn't clear whether their deaths are associated with other crimes that have been committed at the castle, or involve the manuscript, or are unrelated entirely. Corbett must navigate treacherous waters in determining what is going on and why.
Much of the appeal of The Magician's Death lies in the way the intricate plot develops. Corbett can't be sure (nor can the reader) whether everyone is who they claim to be, and whether the deaths of several young women, and later, three of the French scholars, are connected. And what of the mysterious ships that patrol just offshore? The remote setting, and the blinding winter storm that batters the castle, add to the seductive nature of an obscure entity whose purpose is elusive and uncertain. Set in 1304, his historical mystery, with political overtones that resonate even today, is one of the best of its genre, and is highly recommended.
Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a copy of The Magician's Death for this review.
Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in The Magician's Death: England
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The Magician's Death by P. C. Doherty — A Hugh Corbett Medieval Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: July 2009
List Price: $24.99