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The Nightingale Gallery (The Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan #1)

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  653 ratings  ·  46 reviews
In 1376, the famed Black Prince died of a terrible rotting sickness, closely followed by his father, King Edward III. The crown of England is left in the hands of a mere boy, the future Richard II, and the great nobles gather like hungry wolves around the empty throne. As a terrible power struggle threatens the country, one of London's powerful merchant princes is foully m ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published November 21st 2011 by Severn Select (first published 1991)
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I like the title of this series. Not being a Catholic, I had to look up "Sorrowful Mysteries" - they're one of the sets of Mysteries used when praying the Rosary.

The book has an interesting setting: London, just after the death of Edward III. John of Gaunt seems to be mixed up in the murder, although I didn't get far enough along to find out how. In addition to Brother Athelstan we are quickly introduced to a cat, a widow, a coroner, a criminal taking sanctuary in Athelstan's church, a corrupt J
Another piece of “candy” for my historical mystery addiction. I love historical mysteries, use them as a candy fix, and The Nightingale Gallery didn’t disappoint. This story takes place in the late 14th century and the author was able to give you a good picture of life during those times. I am not too familiar with this period in history when John of Gaunt is regent for the young crown prince (Richard II) and I would have liked a bit more of the politics going on behind the scenes. A Dominican p ...more
Maureen Curran-Dorsano
The medieval clerical mystery seems to be a sub-genre all its own, with dozens of series centered around monks, friars, nuns, monasteries, abbeys and the like. Though The Cadfael Chronicles are still my favorite, I am enjoying this series that takes place in 14th century London. The author's descriptions erase any bit of romantic notions about medieval life, and I tire a bit reading about the stinking, putrid, nauseating, etc., etc., etc., sites and smells of London. But Brother Athelstan is a w ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
I'm partial to historical mysteries, but the last few that I tried out were only so-so, possibly because their settings were too recent - Victorian England. This one is set in the 14th century, so the sense of exoticism underscored with a lived-in earthiness that makes such settings appealing to me is more or less a given. Brother Athelstan is monk with a troubled past and he's been given charge of a London slum full of harlots, ne-er do wells and humble tradesmen. He's also been made clerk to a ...more
not my cup of tea

This book was hard to finish.

1. The relationship between the protagonists (Brother Athelstan and Sir John Cranston) was not developed adequately.

2. On the one hand, there were enough anachronisms (did anyone say "no problem" in the 14th century?) and on the other hand, the author told us so often about the ordure in the streets, that I almost constantly distracted.

Not my cup of tea.

p.s. The Kindle version has numerous typographic errors (omissions, duplications, etc.). The publisher needs to do
Love this series with Athelstan and the fat drunken Coroner Cranston. I also like the time period in which the series is set, when Richard II was a young boy and the Regency was controlled by John of Gaunt. Lots of political politiking going on then. My favorite mystery author, whose books are hard to find in this country. I remember vacationing in London just so I could buy his books.
Mark Vargo
Pleasant enough, but it drives me nuts when the vital clue upon which a mystery hinges is kept from the reader. Might give the series a second chance, but not more.
This is the probably the most mixed review i've had to give a book in quite a while. Anyone who follows my reviews knows that i'm not overly difficult to please - I simply like to be entertained when I read a story, however right up until the last page I was set to give this one only 2 stars, possibly my first 2-star review for the year.

So first, the bad:

I expected a lot from this book as I'd seen Doherty praised, a lot, in mystery lover circles, and historical crime novels - particularly those
Sandra Strange
This beginning of a series proved to be quite good. The Medieval background is well researched, and the historical figures play a more active role in this novel than in other Medieval series. I wasn't enthralled by the protagonist sleuths. The coroner for whom the monk is an assistant is said in the reviews to be "Falstaffian," but then I've never been thrilled with Falstaff. In this series, the coroner's assistant, from whose point of view the reader sees the story, covers up for the coroner's ...more
It's has been quite awhile since I last read a Paul Doherty historical mystery so I had forgotten his ability to transport magically to a specific time and place with his descriptive narrative. Sadly though, the story is set in the Middle Ages where the smell of body sweat, rotting sewage and general unhygienic practices reminds me how lucky humankind was in overcoming the various viral diseases and bacterial infections that plagued us. Once my sense of smell recovered from the descriptive onsla ...more
"Die Gallerie der Nachtigallen" ist der erste Band in einer Krimiserie um ein außergewöhnliches Ermittlerpaar. Sir John Cranston, Coroner des Königs, und Bruder Athelstan, sein Schreiber, werden mit der Aufklärung eines Mordes an einem reichen Goldschmied im mittelalterlichen London beauftragt.
Die Handlung fand ich logisch, aber nicht übermäßig spannend. Für meinen Geschmack haben die beiden Ermittler zu lange gebraucht, um die richtigen Fragen zu stellen. Sir John und Athelstan sind sehr sympa
Diana Sandberg
Someone mentioned to me a while back that historical mysteries were proliferating like mad and I didn’t really grasp how true this is. This is yet another in a series, this time set in medieval London. It’s the first, and throughout I was making some allowances for it being a first novel, as it seemed a bit rough in places; then at the end I discover it’s the first of this series but that the author has written several other stories set in the period. Hmm. It’s not bad, really, and I certainly c ...more
Harish Puvvula
I'm a big fan of historical fiction and loved Matthew Shardlake and James Shakespeare series. Athelstan series can rival them. However, in comparison, this book has a less historical backdrop than the Shardlake series.
Though the series is referred to as "Athelstan" series, Sir John Cranston gets to steal the show. Cant help but notice a shade of Falstaff (from the bard's Henry IV) in Cranston. Very entertaining!
Jason Braida
I must say I did enjoy this book. It managed to combine two of my favorite genres...historical fiction and mystery. A murder mystery set in 14th century London featuring a hard drinking and crass coroner and his partner, a sober and very thoughtful Dominican friar, made for a good story. And in the end, I didn't figure out the identity of the culprit until it was revealed in the final chapter. I will definitely read more of the books in this series.
I was so looking forward to this, given how much I adore the Brother Cadfael series. This one is set later. I coldn't stand the overly macabre descriptions the author gave of King Edward ad his appearance; I thought they were just silly. So, I stopped after a few pages.
I love this series of medieval mysteries. Brother Athelstan is a friar with a brilliant mind and a compassionate heart. He and City coroner Cranston are an endearing team that investigate murders. Colorful characters, the bustle of London, this series is just a great read
Vor 10, 15 Jahren hätte ich dem Buch bestimmt noch 4 Sterne gegeben. Ich habe die Bücher damals verschlungen, aber auch jetzt reicht's noch locker für 3 Sterne. Dieser rülpsende, furzende, saufende Coroner und sein Schreiber haben es mir einfach angetan. Klar gibt's viele Stereotypen - aber Harding schafft es auch, das mittelalterliche London mit all seinen Schrecken, seinem Dreck usw. lebendig zu machen (OHNE mit seinem Wissen anzugeben). Richtig spannend ist die Geschichte nicht, aber das wird ...more
The characters are likable. The book is well written. How they solved the mystery? ..lets just say implausible and leave it at that.

And yet ..still enjoyable and worth reading.
Alice Lee Smith
love the historical detail!

And of course a great story! Excellent read, and I will go on to read the subsequent tales. Looking forward to them....
Robert Drescher
Another great historical mystery with two absolutely amazing main characters that could not be more different from each other.
A friar being punished by his prior serves as the clerk to the coroner in John of Gaunt's London. They are called to investigate the death of a rich merchant which would seem to be open and shut disgruntled servant poisons then hangs himself. More residents of the house end up dead and the two investigators become curious. Plotting is weird lots of intuition and hidden clues. You see them discover things but not what they discover. I liked the characters so may give it another try, but not super ...more
Shaun Hately
Very interesting book. Looking forward to reading more in this series. I like the two main protagonists immensely.
Val Sanford
A drunken coroner and a penitent friar set out to uncover the murder of one of the most powerful men in England. Edward III has just died and his son, Lord Gaunt, is regent to the heir, 10 year old Richard. And that's about as good as it gets. Some scenes successfully pulled me into the period, such as the description of the heads of those condemned of treason slammed on to poles for the ravens to peck at. Overall, the mystery just isn't that intriguing. The characters are one-dimensional and th ...more
A great Romp, a great period in History and a part of London I know well. The characters are delightful, flawed and amusing. Great read!
1376 and England is in turmoil. The Black Prince is dead, Edward III is dead and a boy wears the crown.

Coroner Sir John Cranston and Brother Athelstan must investigate the murder of a powerful merchant. The family offers little in the way of help and Sir John cannot seem to stay sober enough to complete a investigation. Brother Athelstan has problems of his own keeping his church in repair and his parishioners in good health.

The story was good, I can see a lot of potential in the characters as a
Kathy Moberg
It was interesting to reread this 1991 mystery and refresh my memory on how everything began.
This is a short novel, 169 pages, but is very dense. An odd couple - the coroner and the friar, are charged with solving the murder of one of London's most important people in the late 1600's. The detectives twist and turn as they move through the clues and their own hunches. I say it is dense because although it was not long, it took me a long time to read it. The story was interesting, but the pages just didn't turn all that quickly.
Rosalind Hoenig
It was a good book. Short and sweet. A god little mystery!
Kaye Gambles
I think I've read this book, but I need to go back and re-investigate it. What I do remember is that it was enjoyable from the point of view that in the middle of all the murder and intrigue this book actually made you laugh out loud!! A Monk and a Coronor are an unlikely pairing, but in this tale it works really well and enjoyed the fact that you could have a laugh too. I must re-read this one.
Siegfried Gony
Paul Harding fait ici une fois encore la preuve de son talent. A la fois d'historien et de conteur. Toutefois, cet opus n'a pas le sel de ses autres histoires et cela bien que les personnages sont toujours truculents et l'ambiance de la vieille cité de Londres de la guerre de Cent-Ans rendue avec beaucoup de précision, sans être en rien gênant au déroulement de l'intrigue.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

He has been published under several pseudonyms: P.C. Doherty, Celia L. Grace, Paul Harding, Ann Dukthas, Vanessa Alexander, Michael Clynes and Anna Apostolou but now writes only under his own name.

Paul Doherty was born in Middlesbrough (North-Eastern England) in 1946. He had
More about Paul Doherty...

Other Books in the Series

The Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • The House of the Red Slayer (The Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan, #2)
  • Murder Most Holy (The Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan, #3)
  • The Anger of God (Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan, #4)
  • By Murder's Bright Light (The Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan, #5)
  • The House of Crows (The Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan, #6)
  • The Assassin's Riddle (The Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan, #7)
  • The Devil's Domain (The Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan, #8)
  • The Field of Blood (The Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan, #9)
  • The House of Shadows (The Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan, #10)
  • Bloodstone (Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan, #11)
Satan in St Mary's (Hugh Corbett, #1) The Mask of Ra (Amerotke, #1) The Anubis Slayings (Amerotke, #3) The Horus Killings (Amerotke, #2) Corpse Candle (Hugh Corbett, #13)

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