It is the Summer of 1311 and Hugh Corbett is about to take up a life of danger again in the eighteenth novel in his series, Dark Serpent, the follow up to The Mysterium.
Paul Doherty's most popular series character returns.
After his recent unveiling of a devious assassin, Sir Hugh Corbett has returned to service as the Keeper of the Secret Seal, begrudgingly admitting that his appetite for adventure has once again been whetted.
Summoned to meet the King to be congratulated on their work together, Corbett and Ranulf learn of the death of Corbett's close friend, Ralph Grandison. Ralph, a leper, has been found dead in a rowing boat, a dagger thrust through his chest. But this murder is not the first of its kind. Other patients of the hospital in which Ralph was staying have similarly slaughtered and it seems as though the lepers, all former knights of the Royal household, are being targeted.
The discovery that Ralph was killed by no ordinary weapon, but a poison dagger that once belonged with the Crown Jewels before being famously stolen, leads Corbett down a complex path, where the risk of disease plays out against the backdrop of finding an assassin who will use any means necessary to kill. As Corbett puts himself in the path of extreme danger, will he survive to see another day?
Sleuthing monk Brother Athelstan discovers that past crimes can cause new murder in the latest intriguing medieval mystery June, 1381. The rebel armies are massed outside London, determined to overturn both Crown and Church. The Regent, John of Gaunt, has headed north, leaving his nephew, the boy-king Richard II, unprotected. Brother Athelstan meanwhile has been summoned to the monastery at Blackfriars, tasked with solving the murder of his fellow priest, Brother Alberic, found stabbed to death in his locked chamber. Athelstan would rather be protecting his parishioners at St Erconwald's. Instead, he finds himself investigating a royal murder that took place fifty-four years earlier whilst the rebel leaders plot the present king's destruction. What does the fate of the king's great-grandfather, Edward II, have to do with the murder of Brother Alberic more than fifty years later? When he finds his own life under threat, Athelstan discovers that exposing past secrets can lead to present danger.
On a cold November night in a Deptford yard, dock worker Harry Parker stumbles upon the body of a dead woman. Inspector Ben Ross is summoned from Scotland Yard to this insalubrious part of town, but no witness to the murder of this well-dressed, middle-aged woman can be found. Even Jeb Fisher, the local rag-and-bone man, swears he's seen nothing. Meanwhile, Ben's wife Lizzie is trying to suppress a scandal: family friend Edgar Wellings has a gambling addiction and no means of repaying his debts. Reluctantly, Lizzie agrees to visit his debt collector's house in Deptford, but when she arrives she finds her husband is investigating the murder of the woman in question. Edgar was the last man to see Mrs Clifford alive and he has good reason to want her dead, but Ben and Lizzie both know that a case like this is rarely as simple as it appears...
Inspired by the real story of investigator Kate Warne, this spirited novel follows the detective's rise during one of the nation's times of crisis, bringing to life a fiercely independent woman whose forgotten triumphs helped sway the fate of the country. With no money and no husband, Kate Warne finds herself with few choices. The streets of 1856 Chicago offer a desperate widow mostly trouble and ruin - unless that widow has a knack for manipulation and an unusually quick mind. In a bold move that no other woman has tried, Kate convinces the legendary Allan Pinkerton to hire her as a detective. Battling criminals and coworkers alike, Kate immerses herself in the dangerous life of an operative, winning the right to tackle some of the agency's toughest investigations. But is the woman she's becoming - capable of any and all lies, swapping identities like dresses - the true Kate? Or has the real disguise been the good girl she always thought she was?
A scurrilous newspaper has built up a large following by publishing details of political and sexual scandals. It is remarkably well-informed and has therefore created a whole host of enemies. When the editor is killed and the printing press smashed to bits, the Invisible Detectives are hired by the man who financed the production of the paper. He wants the killer brought to justice and the scandal sheet revived. Peter and Paul Skillen find themselves in great danger as they unearth an enormous amount of scandal and corruption before the villains are brought to book.
1817. Dawn breaks on a summer's day in Chalk Farm, London, and the scene is set for a duel between a lady's two ardent admirers. Paul Skillen has been teaching Mark Bowerman how to shoot properly, and although he is not sanguine of his chances, stands as his second. Although the duel is broken up, the passions behind the duel seem to spill out into the full light of day when one of the two duellists is found dead, shot between the eyes. Paul and his twin Peter are determined to see justice done and are soon enmeshed in threads of inheritance, treachery and fraud.
A compelling new mystery for Libertus, set against the backdrop of the Roman Empire in turmoil... An astonishing new order has usurped power in Rome and the reverberations are reaching even to Glevum, where the legion is preparing to depart. Libertus's wealthy patron, until recently one of the most influential men in the Empire, finds himself not only deprived of the privilege and protection he had previously enjoyed, but under actual threat both from the political establishment in Rome and from an anonymous and vindictive enemy much closer to home. The murder of another councillor, similarly placed, makes the matter urgent. Libertus, whose humbler status affords obscurity, is charged with spiriting Marcus's young family away to a place of safety. But his task will bring problems of its own, as Libertus uncovers a grisly secret and an ancient crime - with ramifications stretching to the present day.
Summer, 1840. Edgar Allan Poe arrives in London to meet his friend C. Auguste Dupin, in the hope that the great detective will help him solve a family mystery. For Poe has inherited a mahogany box containing sheathes of letters that implicate his grandparents in some of London's most heinous and scandalous crimes - those committed by the so-called London Monster who, for two years, terrorized the city's streets, stalking attractive, well-to-do young women, slicing their clothing and their derrieres. Unable, or perhaps unwilling, to accept that his grandparents - actors who struggled to make a living on the London stage - led a clandestine and nefarious double life, Poe and Dupin set out to prove the missives forgeries. But as they delve deeper into the city's secrets, and past horrors emerge, they start to suspect that they too are being watched and preyed upon. And if they are, might their stalkers be connected to the London Monster?
The lips had been darned closed with six long, black, stitches. Clumsily executed, they gave the face a crude deaths-head appearance, like a child's drawing scrawled upon a wall... 1851, Angel Meadow Asylum. Dr Rutherford, principal physician to the insane, is found dead, his head bashed in, his ears cut off, his lips and eyes stitched closed. The police direct their attention towards Angel Meadow's inmates, but to Jem Flockhart and Will Quartermain the crime is an act of calculated retribution, rather than of madness. To discover the truth Jem and Will must pursue the story through the darkest corners of the city - from the depths of a notorious rookery, to the sordid rooms of London's brothels, the gallows, the graveyard, the convict fleet and then back to the asylum. In a world where guilt and innocence, crime and atonement, madness and reason, are bounded by hypocrisy, ambition and betrayal, Jem and Will soon find themselves caught up in a web of dark secrets and hidden identities.
Burma, 1852. Arthur Bowman, a sergeant in the East India Company, is sent on a secret mission during the Second Anglo-Burmese War. But the expedition is foiled - his men are captured and tortured. Throughout their ordeal, a single word becomes Bowman's mantra, a word that will stiffen their powers of endurance in the face of unimaginable suffering: "Survival". But for all that, only a handful escape with their lives.
Some years later in London, battling his ghosts through a haze of alcohol and opium, Bowman discovers a mutilated corpse in a sewer. The victim appears to have been subjected to the same torments as Bowman endured in the Burmese jungle. And the word "Survival" has been daubed in blood by the body's side. Persuaded that the culprit is one of the men who shared his captivity, Bowman resolves to hunt him down.
From the Burmese jungle to the slums of London to the conquest of the Wild West, Antonin Varenne takes us on a thrilling journey full of sound and unabated fury, reviving the lapsed tradition of the great writers of boundless adventure. Sergeant Bowman belongs to that breed of heroes who inhabit the imaginations of Conrad, Kipling, Stevenson... Lost soldiers who have plunged into the heart of darkness and will cross the globe in search of vengeance and redemption.
A night of dancing that ends with the mysterious disappearance of a stable-boy - and Lord Francis Powerscourt is summoned to investigate. Spring 1914, and Jack Harper, current owner of Melrose Hall, has thrown a party for his eldest, Andrew, who is turning twenty-one. But the following morning there is no sign of Richard O'Connor. More than just a stable-boy, Richard acts as the legs of the paralyzed Jack Harper, pushing him around the estate in his wheelchair and sharing with him an affinity with the family's stable of thoroughbreds. The police aren't interested in the disappearance of a servant so Powerscourt is summoned. And then a body is discovered in the tackroom of one of the farms on the estate. Richard O'Connor has been shot through the head - but why would anyone want to shoot him? And what of Richard's unique ability - he can tell which horse is going to win the race. Did that lead to his death? Or was it the arrival of gangs at the local races, keen to enlist Richard into their crime syndicates?
In 88 B.C., it seems as if the entire ancient world is at war. In the west, the Italian states are rebelling against Rome; in the east, Mithridates is marching through and conquering the Roman Asian provinces. Even in the relatively calm Alexandria, a coup has brought a new Pharaoh to power and chaos to the streets. The young Gordianus has been waiting out the chaos in Alexandria, with Bethesda, when he gets a cryptic message from his former tutor and friend, Antipater. Now in Ephesus, as part of Mithridates' entourage, Antipater seems to think that his life is in imminent danger. To rescue him, Gordianus concocts a daring, even foolhardy, scheme to go behind enemy lines and bring Antipater to safety. But there are powerful, and deadly forces, at work here, which have their own plans for Gordianus. Not entirely sure whether he's a player or a pawn, Gordianus must unravel the mystery behind the message if he's to save himself and the people he holds most dear.