Date: December 2002
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Mystery / Historical Horror/Whodunit (1286 China)
Rachel A Hyde
back to the dark and dastardly world of Paul Doherty; a fell place
where demons walk and foul murders are committed while virtuous
folk endeavour to keep the peace. I've lost count of how many books
Doherty has written, but every time he delivers the goods--and has
created his own sub-genre of supernatural historical crime fiction.
This time it is Marco Polo who is at the center of things and is
staying as a long- term guest and employee of Kublai Khan in the
exotic city of Cabaluc. But members of the Guild of Pourers, whose
job it is to keep the city's streets clean, are being killed and
word is spreading of a terrible demon that is stalking the land,
summoned from Hell by human magicians from the Water Lily sect.
This demon is the Plague Lord and will destroy the world with the
diseases he spreads. It is up to Marco Polo and his two cohorts,
the Buddhist nun Su-Ling and the Franciscan monk Brother Raphael,
to sort things out.
Stoke up the fire, draw the curtains
and put your feet up in order to enjoy this delightfully spooky
and robust tale of demons, death and disease in old China. The exotic
and mannered lives of Kublai Khan's subjects are contrasted against
the supernatural goings-on and as usual with Doherty there is plenty
of blood, bodies and general mayhem, all told in an admirably brief
novel. This isn't so much a whodunit as a horror story but apart
from that perhaps there isn't anything very new in here except the
Chinese setting. Comparisons can be drawn with his earlier horror
novel The Rose Demon, as well as with most of this other
novels (well, all right all of them) but if you are a Doherty fan
and love his unique perspective on history, you will lap this up
just as I did. Great stuff!