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    Review of THE WAXMAN MURDERS by P. C. Doherty


    Minotaur Books, December 2010

    Clerk Hugh Corbett is in Canterbury to look into the murder of a wealthy man, supposedly by his wife. As the wife is a former ward of King Edward III, the King's clerk is involved. On arriving in Canterbury, however, Corbett discovers another crime has been committed. A the family of a German merchant has been murdered… and were found hanged without any evidence of struggle or drugging. The mysterious brother of a notorious pirate is suspected, but the brother will want revenge not only on the Germans, but also on local Canterbury merchants and on the king himself as all were instrumental in capturing and destroying the pirate. Then there's the matter of a Saxon treasure rumored buried beneath a burial mound. The king would very much like a share of this treasure.

    Corbett's investigation seems to lead him nowhere. The widow may be innocent--she was having an affair at the time of the murder, but how to explain the locked room where the dead man was found, or the bloody rags in her room? The bigger mystery, connected with the Waxman pirate ship, is even harder to resolve. Not only do we have the locked room issue of the dead family, we also have Corbett's spy being executed, crossbow bolts being fired at Corbett, and warnings that others will soon die.

    Author P. C. Doherty (see more reviews of mysteries by Doherty) creates an enjoyable view of medieval England with its men shattered by war with Scotland, its combination of piety and earthiness, and the ever-present filth, disease, and poverty (the monks spend much of their time collecting the corpses of beggars who freeze to death during the night). I found the mystery to be challenging, and the characters interesting. I would have liked to see a bit more action in the investigation--it seemed that we spent most of our time sitting around tables interviewing witnesses and not enough of our time actually seeking suspects. Still, THE WAXMAN MURDERS is an enjoyable read for those who like medieval-style mysteries.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 4/26/11

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