Hugh Corbett 17 - The Mysterium

BOOK: Hugh Corbett 17 - The Mysterium
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THE MYSTERIUM
 
 
PAUL DOHERTY
 
 
headline
Copyright © 2010 Paul Doherty
The right of Paul Doherty to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, with prior permission in writing of the publishers or, in the case of reprographic production, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.
First published as an Ebook by Headline Publishing Group in 2012
All characters in this publication are fictitious – apart from the obvious historical characters – and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental
Cataloguing in Publication Data is available from the British Library
This Ebook produced by Jouve digitalisation des Informations
eISBN : 978 0 7553 7348 2
HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP
An Hachette UK Company
338 Euston Road
London NW1 3BH
Table of Contents
 
 
History has always fascinated me. I see my stories as a time machine. I want to intrigue you with a murderous mystery and a tangled plot, but I also want you to experience what it was like to slip along the shadow-thronged alleyways of medieval London; to enter a soaringly majestic cathedral but then walk out and glimpse the gruesome execution scaffolds rising high on the other side of the square. In my novels you will sit in the oaken stalls of a gothic abbey and hear the glorious psalms of plain chant even as you glimpse white, sinister gargoyle faces peering out at you from deep cowls and hoods. Or there again, you may ride out in a chariot as it thunders across the Redlands of Ancient Egypt or leave the sunlight and golden warmth of the Nile as you enter the marble coldness of a pyramid’s deadly maze. Smells and sounds, sights and spectacles will be conjured up to catch your imagination and so create times and places now long gone. You will march to Jerusalem with the first Crusaders or enter the Colosseum of Rome, where the sand sparkles like gold and the crowds bay for the blood of some gladiator. Of course, if you wish, you can always return to the lush dark greenness of medieval England and take your seat in some tavern along the ancient moon-washed road to Canterbury and listen to some ghostly tale which chills the heart . . . my books will take you there then safely bring you back!
The periods that have piqued my interest and about which I have written are many and varied. I hope you enjoy the read and would love to hear your thoughts – I always appreciate any feedback from readers. Visit my publisher’s website here:
www.headline.co.uk
and find out more. You may also visit my website:
www.paulcdoherty.com
or email me on:
[email protected]
.
Paul Doherty
Paul Doherty is one of the most prolific, and lauded, authors of historical mysteries in the world today. His expertise in all areas of history is illustrated in the many series that he writes about, from the Mathilde of Westminster series, set at the court of Edward II, to the Amerotke series, set in Ancient Egypt. Amongst his most memorable creations are Hugh Corbett, Brother Athelstan and Roger Shallot.
Paul Doherty was born in Middlesbrough. He studied history at Liverpool and Oxford Universities and obtained a doctorate at Oxford for his thesis on Edward II and Queen Isabella. He is now headmaster of a school in north-east London and lives with his wife and family near Epping Forest.

Also by Paul Doherty

Mathilde of Westminster
THE CUP OF GHOSTS
THE POISON MAIDEN
THE DARKENING GLASS
Sir Roger Shallot
THE WHITE ROSE MURDERS
THE POISONED CHALICE
THE GRAIL MURDERS
A BROOD OF VIPERS
THE GALLOWS MURDERS
THE RELIC MURDERS
Templar
THE TEMPLAR
THE TEMPLAR MAGICIAN
Mahu (The Akhenaten trilogy)
AN EVIL SPIRIT OUT OF THE WEST
THE SEASON OF THE HYAENA
THE YEAR OF THE COBRA
Canterbury Tales by Night
AN ANCIENT EVIL
A TAPESTRY OF MURDERS
A TOURNAMENT OF MURDERS
GHOSTLY MURDERS
THE HANGMAN’S HYMN
A HAUNT OF MURDER
Egyptian Mysteries
THE MASK OF RA
THE HORUS KILLINGS
THE ANUBIS SLAYINGS
THE SLAYERS OF SETH
THE ASSASSINS OF ISIS
THE POISONER OF PTAH
THE SPIES OF SOBECK
Constantine the Great
DOMINA
MURDER IMPERIAL
THE SONG OF THE GLADIATOR
THE QUEEN OF THE NIGHT
MURDER’S IMMORTAL MASK
Hugh Corbett
SATAN IN ST MARY’S
THE CROWN IN DARKNESS
SPY IN CHANCERY
THE ANGEL OF DEATH
THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS
MURDER WEARS A COWL
THE ASSASSIN IN THE GREENWOOD
THE SONG OF A DARK ANGEL
SATAN’S FIRE
THE DEVIL’S HUNT
THE DEMON ARCHER
THE TREASON OF THE GHOSTS
CORPSE CANDLE
THE MAGICIAN’S DEATH
THE WAXMAN MURDERS
NIGHTSHADE
THE MYSTERIUM
Standalone Titles
THE ROSE DEMON
THE HAUNTING
THE SOUL SLAYER
THE PLAGUE LORD
THE DEATH OF A KING
PRINCE DRAKULYA
THE LORD COUNT DRAKULYA
THE FATE OF PRINCES
DOVE AMONGST THE HAWKS
THE MASKED MAN
As Vanessa Alexander
THE LOVE KNOT
OF LOVE AND WAR
THE LOVING CUP
Kathryn Swinbrooke (as C L Grace)
SHRINE OF MURDERS
EYE OF GOD
MERCHANT OF DEATH
BOOK OF SHADOWS
SAINTLY MURDERS
MAZE OF MURDERS
FEAST OF POISONS
Nicholas Segalla (as Ann Dukthas)
A TIME FOR THE DEATH OF A KING
THE PRINCE LOST TO TIME
THE TIME OF MURDER AT MAYERLING
IN THE TIME OF THE POISONED QUEEN
Mysteries of Alexander the Great (as Anna Apostolou)
A MURDER IN MACEDON
A MURDER IN THEBES
Alexander the Great
THE HOUSE OF DEATH
THE GODLESS MAN
THE GATES OF HELL
Matthew Jankyn (as P C Doherty)
THE WHYTE HARTE
THE SERPENT AMONGST THE LILIES
Non-fiction
THE MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF TUTANKHAMUN
ISABELLA AND THE STRANGE DEATH OF EDWARD II
ALEXANDER THE GREAT: THE DEATH OF A GOD
THE GREAT CROWN JEWELS ROBBERY OF 1303
THE SECRET LIFE OF ELIZABETH I
THE DEATH OF THE RED KING

Teems with colour, energy and spills’
Time Out
‘Paul Doherty has a lively sense of history . . . evocative and lyrical descriptions’
New Statesman
‘Extensive and penetrating research coupled with a strong plot and bold characterisation. Loads of adventure and a dazzling evocation of the past’
Herald Sun
, Melbourne
‘An opulent banquet to satisfy the most murderous appetite’
Northern Echo
‘As well as penning an exciting plot with vivid characters, Doherty excels at bringing the medieval period to life, with his detailed descriptions giving the reader a strong sense of place and time’
South Wales Argus
To Ida Margaret Barbero Terracino, no mother more loved and lovely. A true Christian lady and the best of teachers. From the rising of the sun to its setting, we shall never forget you. (The Terracino family)
Prologue
Soul-scot
: the last payment of the dead . . .
A cold wind swept the Thames. The river, a broad ribbon of inky blackness lit here and there by the glow of lamp or candlelight, surged powerfully between its banks. The late winter rains had lashed the King’s great city of London, drenching the thatched roofs of the poor and cascading down the dark red tiles of the stately Cheapside mansions. The year was turning. Spring was easing its way into the ice-bound countryside beyond the Tower. Soon the harsh rigour of Lent would be imposed, fasting, sackcloth and penance. The shriving pews of London churches would become busy. Those seeking absolution would creep to the cross hoisted high on the rood screen to confess their sins: pride, avarice, greed, lust and, above all, murder.
The chroniclers, sitting in the scriptoria of their monasteries and abbeys, cowls pushed over shaven sculls, mittened, ink-stained fingers fluttering over plates of fiery coal, were strident in their judgement. Murder had made London its haunt. The Beast of the Apocalypse, begotten by Cain, prowled the sordid, spindle-thin alleys of the city. Murder lurked in the runnels of Cheapside and flittered like some darting shadow along the corridors of palaces, across the galleries of stately mansions and even through the paved cloister walks of their own houses. With the horned features of a babewyn or a gargoyle, it seemed to strike, strike and strike again. It battened fat, waxed strong on other sins, some fresh and bloody like hunks of meat sliced by a hunter: power, lust, greed, revenge, hatred or passions freed by too much ale or wine. It also nourished itself on ancient sins supposedly long forgotten, the roots of which had dug deep like weeds in a graveyard, stretching down to break through the coffin wood or the linen shroud to draw a morbid strength and vigour from the ill-named dead. The chroniclers listed such horrid deeds, as did the coroners’ rolls at the Guildhall with their litany of ‘death other than their natural death’. Murder erupted from the dark on Fleet Street, on the highway through Holborn, outside the gates of the Temple, in the shadow of Aldgate and Cripplegate, within bowshot of the Tower and on the approaches to London Bridge.
On 6 March, the year of Our Lord 1304, the thirty-second year of King Edward I, the eve of the Feast of St Perpetua and Felicitas, who died as martyrs in the Roman arena, murder unfolded its standard on the banks of the Thames at Queenshithe close to the small Chapel of the Oak. Its victim, Ignacio Engleat, lying bound and gagged against the slime-covered wall of an alleyway, faced the soul-cutting terror of his own swift-approaching violent death. He stared in terror at the dark shape busy about him, all hooded and visored, humming a Goliard song about a scholar walking a flower-fringed lane to meet his love-sweet. Ignacio wanted to live, but if he was to die, he must be shriven, confess his many sins, his cloying lusts, his deep thirst for the glee cup of the richest Bordeaux. He had sinned that very evening, visiting the whorehouse the Comfort of Bathsheba, doing business with the strumpet-mongers and lying with a maid soft and tender, her skin smooth as silk and white as milk, hair as red as the sun, lips sweeter than the honeycomb. Afterwards he’d gone downstairs to the tavern next door, the Halls of Purgatory, where he’d demanded and drunk a goblet of the best claret. He had fallen asleep and woken here in this freezing, filthy antechamber of hell. He could not remember how. He must have been drugged with some malignant potion mingled with his wine.
BOOK: Hugh Corbett 17 - The Mysterium
12.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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