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Medieval Murder Mysteries in the vein of Cadfael.
What is the Hugh Corbett series about?
Written by English author and historian Paul C. Doherty, this murder mystery series is set during the 13th-century reign of Edward I of England.
Launched in 1986 with the novel Satan in St Mary’s, This series tells the story of Hugh Corbett, the chancellor of England’s faithful clerk, as he investigates threats to the King and Country.
During his work, he is assisted by Ranulf-atte-Newgate, a felon saved from execution. Corbett solves murder mysteries but also identifies spies and robbers.
How to read the Hugh Corbett Books in Order?
Every book in the Hugh Corbett series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- Satan in St Mary’s (1986)
- The Crown in Darkness (1988)
- Spy in Chancery (1988)
- The Angel of Death (1989)
- The Prince Of Darkness (1992)
- Murder Wears a Cowl (1992)
- The Assassin in the Greenwood (1993)
- The Song of a Dark Angel (1994)
- Satan’s Fire (1995)
- The Devil’s Hunt (1996)
- The Demon Archer (1999)
- The Treason of the Ghosts (2000)
- Corpse Candle (2001)
- The Magician’s Death (2004)
- The Waxman Murders (2006)
- Nightshade (2008)
- The Mysterium (2010)
- Dark Serpent (2016)
- Devil’s Wolf (2017)
- Death’s Dark Valley (2019)
- Hymn to Murder (2020)
- Mother Midnight (2021)
- Realm of Darkness (2022)
- Prince of Murders (Coming Soon)
What is the plot of the Hugh Corbett novels?
For more information about the books in the Hugh Corbett series by Paul Doherty, you’ll find below the official synopsis for all the books:
Satan in St Mary’s – 1284 and Edward I is battling a traitorous movement founded by the late Simon de Montfort, the rebel who lost his life at the Battle of Evesham in 1258. The Pentangle, the movement’s underground society whose members are known to practice the black arts, is thought to be behind the apparent suicide of Lawrence Duket, one of the King’s loyal subjects, in revenge for Duket’s murder of one of their supporters. The King orders his wily Chancellor, Burnell, to look into the matter. Burnell chooses Hugh Corbett to conduct the investigation.
The Crown in Darkness – 1286 and on a storm-ridden night King Alexander III of Scotland is riding across the Firth of Forth. He never reaches his final destination. The Scottish throne is left vacant of any real heir and immediately the great European princes and the powerful nobles of Alexander’s kingdom start fighting for the glittering prize. The Chancellor of England, Burnell, sends his faithful clerk, Hugh Corbett, to report on the chaotic situation at the Scottish court.
Spy in Chancery – Edward I of England and Philip IV of France are at war. Philip, by devious means, has managed to seize control of the English duchy of Aquitaine in France, and is now determined to crush Edward. King Edward suspects that his enemy is being aided by a spy in the English court and commissions his chancery clerk, Hugh Corbett, to trace and, if possible, destroy the traitor.
The Angel of Death – In 1298, Edward I of England invaded Scotland and brutally sacked the town of Berwick. He little knew his action would have far-reaching repercussions. A year later, Edward convokes a great assembly of the realm in St Paul’s Cathedral. They are to hear Mass after which the main celebrant, Walter de Montfort, has been delegated to lecture the King on not taxing the Church. During the Mass, de Montfort dies a sudden and violent death. Hugh Corbett, the King’s clerk, is given the task of solving the mystery and tracking down the murderer.
The Prince of Darkness – It is 1301 and a fragile peace exists between Edward of England and Philip IV of France. In the slums of London and Paris it is a different matter. Here the secret agents of both countries still fight their own deadly battles. The Prince of Wales wallows in luxury under the influence of his favourite, Gaveston, who has secret political ambitions to dominate the English crown. These scandals are threatened with exposure when Lady Belmont, the prince’s former mistress, is found dead. Edward turns to his master spy, Hugh Corbett, to solve the mystery.
Murder Wears a Cowl – In early 1302 a violent serial killer lurks in the city of London, slitting the throats of prostitutes. And when Lady Somerville, one of the Sisters of St Martha, is murdered in the same barbaric fashion, her death is closely followed by that of Father Benedict in suspicious circumstances. Edward of England turns to his trusted master clerk, Hugh Corbett, to reveal the identity of the bloodthirsty assassin.
The Assassin in the Greenwood – In the summer of 1302 the famous Robin of Locksley, popularly known as Robin Hood, has gone back to his outlaw ways in Sherwood Forest where he battles against royal authority, culminating in the barbarous massacre of royal tax collectors and the mysterious murder of Sir Eustace Vechey, one of the sheriffs of Nottingham. Hugh Corbett is sent to Nottingham where they find fresh mysteries.
The Song of a Dark Angel – November 1302, Sir Hugh Corbett, together with his manservant, Ranulf, and messenger, Maltote, are sent to Mortlake Manor on the Norfolk coast to confront an evil rarely seen before. A man’s headless corpse, its head impaled on a pole, has been found on a beach and the pretty young wife of a local baker is discovered hanging from a gallows.
Satan’s Fire – 1303 and the Old Man of the Mountain remembers back to when he nearly killed Edward I thirty years before. He now decides to release an imprisoned leper knight to avenge old grievances. A few months later, two nuns are confronted by the horrific sight of a man hungrily being consumed by fire. News of the grisly death greets Edward as he arrives in York for secret negotiations with the leaders of the military Templar Order. His unease deepens when an attempt is made on his life. When the assassin is found dead Edward immediately turns to Hugh Corbett to investigate.
The Devil’s Hunt – The golden summer of 1303 and Oxford is plunged into chaos. The severed heads of beggars have been tied by their hair to the trees in the woods outside the city. John Copsale, the Regent of Sparrow Hall, has been found dead in his bed. Then the college librarian and activist, Robert Ascham is discovered with a crossbow bolt in his chest. King Edward arrives unannounced at Sir Hugh Corbett’s country manor and insists that Corbett goes to the city to solve the murderous mysteries.
The Demon Archer – The death of Lord Henry Fitzalan on the feast of St Matthew, 1303, is a matter widely reported but little mourned. Infamous for his lecherous tendencies, his midnight trysts with a coven of witches, and his boundless self-interest, he was a man of few friends. So when Hugh Corbett is asked to bring his murderer to justice it is not a matter of finding a suspect but of choosing between them.
The Treason of the Ghosts – In the village of Melford, a local lord is executed for a spate of vicious murders. It’s not until the killing begins again, and the dead lord’s son alleges that a miscarriage of justice has taken place, that a serious investigation begins. Hugh Corbett realizes that for the last five years, a serial killer has terrorized the villagers and that when, not if, the next victim is chosen, he must be ready to act.
Corpse Candle – The brothers of the abbey of St Martin’s-in-the-Marsh pay little heed to the tales of robber baron Sir Geoffrey Mandeville’s ghost galloping through the Lincolnshire fens with a retinue of ghastly horseman. They may hear the shrill blast of a hunting horn, or see the corpse candles glowing in the dark, but their comfortable life is protected by a high wall and their powerful abbot. Until Abbot Stephen, a friend of the King, is found dead and Sir Hugh Corbett arrives to investigate.
The Magician’s Death – The monk and scholar Roger Bacon claimed to have seen many marvels of nature and science and concealed these in a book written in an unbreakable code. Sir Hugh Corbett has been instructed to organise agents in Paris to steal this Book of Secrets. They do so but pay a violent price and the French King Philip IV now wishes a meeting between the scholars of England and France to discuss breaking the code.
The Waxman Murders – In 1300 the ‘Cloister Map’, a highly valued collection of detailed maps and sea charts, is stolen at sea. The rulers of Europe are desperate to find them, and when Wilhelm Von Paulents arrives in England apparently in possession of them, Hugh Corbett is sent to negotiate their sale.
Nightshade – January 1304. Scrope, an unscrupulous manor lord, has reneged on his promise to hand over a priceless ornate cross he stole from the Templars during the Crusades. Furthermore, he has massacred as heretics fourteen members of a religious order, whose corpses now hang in the woods near Mistleham in Essex. The King, determined to restore order sends Hugh Corbett to Mistleham in his stead.
The Mysterium – February 1304, and London is in crisis. A succession of brutal murders shocks the city as it comes to terms with the fall from power of Walter Evesham, Chief Justice in the Court of the King’s Bench. Accused of bribery and corruption, Evesham has sought sanctuary to atone for his sins. When Evesham is discovered dead in his cell at the Abbey of Sion, Sir Hugh Corbett is ordered to investigate the murder.
The Peacock’s Cry (short story) – It is 1311 and England seethes with unrest. Sir Hugh Corbett has been absent from royal service for over six years. Content to live a life more relaxed with his wife and children in the country Corbett has enjoyed his time away from the machinations of court and the secrets men will kill to keep. But a visit from his new King, Edward II, brings about change.
Dark Serpent – After his recent unveiling of a devious assassin, Sir Hugh Corbett has returned to service as the Keeper of the Secret Seal. Summoned to meet the King to be congratulated on their work together, Corbett and Ranulf learn of the death of Corbett’s close friend, Ralph Grandison. Ralph, a leper, has been found dead in a rowing boat, a dagger thrust through his chest. But this murder is not the first of its kind…
The King’s Writ (short story) – In the summer of 1311, a jousting tournament is about to commence in the Tower of London, supervised by Sir Hugh Corbett. Two powerful lords have come forward with writs from the late king, promising them both the inheritance of a lucrative estate. To settle the dispute, they are submitting their quarrel to the judicium Dei: the Judgement of God. But when a third claimant comes forward, Corbett suspects that something is awry.
Devil’s Wolf – 1296: King Edward I has led his army to Scotland, determined to take the country under his crown and bloody war breaks out. 1311: Sir Hugh Corbett, finds himself back in Scotland and is revisited by the horrors he witnessed there fifteen years ago. An anonymous letter was delivered to the new king. It promised information about a fatal incident that could allow England to finally bow out of the war with the Scots. Tasked with finding out the truth about the murder, Corbett is forced to take risks he would rather avoid and put his faith in the words of strangers.
Death’s Dark Valley – It is four years since the death of King Edward I, but his reign of terror has cast long shadows over the kingdom. At Holyrood Abbey, sheltered in the depths of the Welsh march, the old king’s former bodyguards protect his secret relics and watch over a mysterious prisoner who is kept in the abbey’s dungeon. But their peaceful existence is shattered when Abbot Henry is poisoned. Summoned to Holyrood, Sir Hugh Corbett, finds the fortress in chaos. Brothers Anselm and Richard have been brutally slain by nails driven deep into their skulls.
Hymn to Murder – Spring, 1312. At Malmaison Manor, Lord Simon is concealing a dark secret – one he arrogantly assumes will never catch up with him. But someone knows about the crime he committed and they’ve found a way to make him pay. And he’s not alone. When he is found mysteriously slain, other deaths soon follow. Meanwhile, ships on the Devonshire coast are being deliberately wrecked, their crews slaughtered, their cargoes plundered.
Mother Midnight – 1312. Sir Hugh Corbett, Keeper of the Secret Seal, has returned from the West Country to find Westminster in chaos. Edward II has fled in an attempt to protect his favourite from the wrath of his noblemen; and a royal clerk has been found dead, poisoned in a locked chamber.
Realm of Darkness – Edward II of England is absorbed with his favorite, Peter Gaveston, while his young wife, Isabella, is about to give birth. Isabella’s father, the ruthless Philip of France, dreams of a grandson wearing the Crown of the Confessor and starts to meddle – even if that means murder… Amaury de Craon, Philip’s Master of Secrets, is despatched to carry out his deadly deeds and Edward II summons Sir Hugh Corbett, Keeper of the Secret Seal, to intercept. Both master spies lodge at the Benedictine abbey of St Michael’s in the forest of Ashdown. Supposedly a house of prayer, the abbey holds sinister secrets and treasures which include the world’s most exquisite diamond, The Glory of Heaven. However, shortly after their arrival, the diamond is stolen and its guardian murdered.
Prince of Murders – Coming Soon…
What should you read if you like the Hugh Corbett novels?
If you like reading Paul Doherty’s Hugh Corbett stories, you may be interested in Brother Cadfael, Matthew Bartholomew, John Shakespeare, Matthew Shardlake, Marwood and Lovett.This article was last updated on May 10, 2023.