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Review of Nightshade by


by Paul Doherty

I like historical fiction, and I like mysteries, but above all I like historical mysteries. While more familiar with Paul Doherty's work set in ancient Egypt, I still enjoyed this mystery set in early 14th century England. Thanks to Doherty's enchanting descriptions and vivid characterization, Nightshade drew me into the year 1304.

I probably have read other Hugh Corbett novels, but I can't remember them. Going off this novel alone, it's hard to get a sense of his character. We spend very little time in Corbett's head; most of the book consists of dialogue and action that doesn't involve Corbett. Still, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. However, it did leave me with this curious feeling that very little of the story was actually influenced by Corbett's actions. So much of it seemed plot driven.

The mystery itself was rather unsatisfactory. Firstly, I couldn't sympathize with the victim, so when we learn the identity of the murderer and the motive, I found myself almost thinking the murder justified. Secondly, the story felt flat for the majority of the book, with very little variation to it. The resolution, in which Corbett lectures the murderer at length as to how the murderer accomplished this crime, goes on for several pages.

As I mentioned in my first paragraph, I really enjoyed the setting and Doherty's writing. I just couldn't fall in love with the plot--it was too flat and, frankly, boring. For fans of the series, this book isn't terrible--I suspect it probably won't be one of the better ones, however. For people who are new to the Hugh Corbett series (or can't remember if they're new, like me!), start with the first book and work your way toward this one.


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