The Matthew Bartholomew series is a stalwart of historical crime fiction – this latest is the twenty-fourth book in the series – and it has many fans, but new readers are always welcome if medieval Cambridge feels like a place you want to be. The author writes in keeping with the period but in a naturally light and fun manner, and the dedication in this book is to her chickens.
Our hero is Matt, as his friends call him, a physician monk who also is called on to examine bodies after death and thus gets involved with searching for murderers with his friend Brother Michael who runs their university college, Michaelhouse. There are constant clashes between the university and the townsfolk, and in this one, set in 1360, the unrest is not helped by the suspicious death of a French scholar.
Why not escape the modern world to join Matt and Michael in their quest for justice?
The twenty-fourth chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew.
In 1360 Edward III issues a call to arms, as sporadic attacks by the French threaten to turn into a full-blown invasion. In Cambridge, fear of the enemy is magnified by the belief that foreign agents are lurking in the area. Tension runs ever higher as rumours and ignorance fan the flames of suspicion amid preparations for war.
And then the first murder occurs - of a French scholar living in the town.
At Michaelhouse, Brother Michael is now Master, but his reach of power in the University is under threat by the election of a new Chancellor and his cohort of dubious advisors. Soon, the Colleges begin to squabble amongst themselves, as well as with the town that never wanted a University in the first place.
Amidst this atmosphere of swelling distrust, physician Matthew Bartholomew is called upon to investigate mysterious deaths in a nearby hospital. He quickly realises that there is something odd about the inmates and their keepers - something dark and deadly, which seems to be connected to the growing number of murders in the town. Pressure mounts as the University and the town clamour for answers, leading Bartholomew and Michael in a frantic quest for a solution before the powder-keg of animosity in Cambridge is ignited.
'A first-rate treat for mystery lovers' (Historical Novels Review)
'Susanna Gregory has an extraordinary ability to conjure up a strong sense of time and place' (Choice)