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

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  862 Ratings  ·  52 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,830)
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Jamie Collins
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
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
Dec 28, 2014 Jayaprakash Satyamurthy rated it really liked it
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
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
Feb 11, 2015 R.L. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Drunkenness Books
Dec 09, 2015 Drunkenness Books rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La Galerie du Rossignol est arrivée à moi complètement par hasard. Je l'ai reçu dans le cadre d'une offre « Deux livres 10/18 achetés, un livre 10/18 offert », sans l'avoir choisi. Je ne connaissais ni Paul Doherty (qui est pourtant une sommité dans le genre du policier historique!) ni la collection Grands Détectives. J'avais donc toutes les raisons d'entrer dans ce livre sans a priori.

Quelle bonne surprise encore une fois ! J'ai particulièrement apprécié le livre, et ce pour plusieurs raisons
Feb 23, 2009 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 01, 2015 Nick rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, historical
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
Mitch McCrimmon
Jun 06, 2016 Mitch McCrimmon rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because I really enjoyed Paul Doherty's Hugh Corbett series which was set around 1300 in England. Unfortunately, I did not like this first instalment of the Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan. The main character is OK but he works with an extremely vulgar coroner who is constantly stuffing his face, burping and farting and being similarly vulgar. Don't know why Doherty had to create such a repulsive character. Maybe he had feedback that the Hugh Corbett character was overl ...more
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
Susan in NC
Oct 05, 2015 Susan in NC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was fun to reread the first in one of my favorite historical mystery series; I first read this one so long ago I didn't remember anything about the plot, but I do recall that it took me awhile to get hooked on this series. I think it was partially the language, the beliefs of the time, and the fact that author Paul Doherty so accurately portrays a time and place when life was truly nasty, brutal and often short. You have to be in the right mood to stalk the filthy, teeming, raucous and danger ...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
Jan 24, 2015 Harish Puvvula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 02, 2015 Jason Braida rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 16, 2015 JodiP rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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.
Jan 11, 2015 Ellie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 09, 2013 Nicola rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mary Corbal
Mar 23, 2016 Mary Corbal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Me ha gustado muchísimo, sobre todo las descripciones que hace de las costumbres y lugares de la época. Cuando leo, suelo saltarme las descripciones, pero en este caso son un aliciente más para esta extraordinaria novela.
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.
Jun 30, 2016 Sharon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps an excessive amount of description of the filth of 14th century London. I did not feel that the plot moved from discovery to discovery particularly well.
Alice Lee Smith
Mar 07, 2015 Alice Lee Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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....
Rania Melhem
Dec 06, 2015 Rania Melhem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I just wish that John of Gaunt had not been painted so evil. His son absolutely but not John himself.
Robert Drescher
Aug 27, 2014 Robert Drescher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 21, 2014 Shaun Hately rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 16, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
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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 16 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)

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“Newgate, and perhaps elsewhere.’ So saying, he strode out of the house. Athelstan breathed a prayer for patience, made a sign of the cross over himself and followed suit. Cranston, now mounted,” 0 likes
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