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A Haunt of Murder    by P. C. Doherty order for
Haunt of Murder
by P. C. Doherty
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2009 (2009)
* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

With forty novels to his credit (including twenty-seven medieval and six ancient Egyptian mysteries), accomplished author P. C. Doherty offers up another medieval whodunit in A Haunt of Murder, the final installment in his Canterbury series.

Borrowing the premise from Chaucer, Doherty has had his pilgrims exchanging stories as they make their way to Canterbury. In A Haunt of Murder, the clerk offers a story 'of love and death' that 'may well chill the blood.' The pilgrims are encamped at the ghostly Demonhurst Copse, a setting that is 'reputedly the most haunted woods in Kent.' With the mood established by his environment, the clerk launches into his spectral tale.

There was on May Day in 1381, says the clerk, an outdoor feast at Ravencroft Castle in Essex. The beautiful seventeen-year old Beatrice Arrowner was there with her beloved Ralph Mortimer.

In spite of the ostensibly festive atmosphere, though, all is not well in and about Ravencroft. Three days earlier a young maid named Phoebe was found murdered in a nearby copse of ancient oaks. And, adding to the unsolved mystery of the girl's death, the miller's son Fulk has gone missing.

Coincidentally - or perhaps not - much had been made recently over the centuries-old legend that a beautiful jeweled treasure had been hidden somewhere on the grounds of Ravencroft. Beatrice, Ralph, and the others at the feast wonder about whether or not the mysteries surrounding Phoebe and Fulk have something to do with some recently renewed interest in the treasure.

Well, faster than you can say witches, ghosts, and murders, someone among Beatrice's and Ralph's group is murdered. And Ralph himself is in grave danger. Only one person can keep him from harm, but that person has already died. Now, in spite of all obstacles, that one person must come from beyond - well beyond - Ravencroft Castle. Only then might Ralph be spared and the mysteries solved.

An entertaining little medieval mystery that is filled to overflowing with passion, intrigue, and excitement, A Haunt of Murder is a sublimely gothic tale that will almost certainly appeal to fans of the subgenre.

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