- Virginia Johnson
There are graphic novels that literally paint then print images onto the page. The Brother Athelstan books are another kind of graphic novel. They have a very visual feel to them, only it’s done with words. Some medieval mysteries are as stuffy as a centuries-old cupboard. P.C. Doherty’s The Nightingale Gallery isn’t like that. Its characters breathe and move and love and murder with a striking vivacity.
Athelstan seems young to be a friar, but he is very determined to atone for his past and so his superiors have placed him in a staggeringly-poor section of London in charge of a crumbling church. That’s not all his duties, though. He is also assigned to be clerk for the blustery Sir John Cranston who acts as the King’s Coroner, discovering and declaring the causes of mysterious deaths the city.
In 1376, the old king has died, leaving a child to take over the throne, though the real power is held by his worldly uncle, the cynical John of Gaunt. Wary with good reason, the new regent is extremely concerned when a gold merchant, who holds as many secrets as he does costly items, dies under questionable circumstances. So Sir John and Athelstan are tasked to investigate. Two more disparate characters are hard to imagine--the brash, drunken knight and the quiet, reflective friar. But both are shrewd in their own ways and committed to finding the murderer.
The Nightingale Gallery is the first in a series of deservedly popular mysteries that illuminate by torch and candlelight both the seedy and regal worlds of old England. The first several are now available as eBooks through our Overdrive service for the Kindle and in other formats.