House of Shadows: A Historical Mystery by the Medieval Murderers

Written by Bernard Knight Ian Morson MICHAEL JECKS Philip Gooden Susanna Gregory
Review by Ilysa Magnus

This compendium of short stories by five well-known and talented authors of medieval mysteries, each a star in his or her own right, all revolve around mysterious goings-on at Bermondsey Priory from its earliest years in the 12th century through the 16th century. Broken out in “acts,” each author has penned a story around a particular weird event occurring at Bermondsey in which his or her protagonist solves the mystery.

It all begins in 1114 when a young chaplain succumbs to the temptations of the flesh and suffers a gruesome fate. From Knight’s Crowner John, to Morson’s William Falconer, to Jecks’s Sir Baldwin, to Gooden’s Chaucer and Gregory’s Thomas Chaloner, each investigator works –over a span of 500 years – to understand the priory’s dark history and to unravel the treacheries that continue to haunt that old and hallowed place.

This is a fun summer read – nothing terribly deep or profound – but if you enjoy the works of any or all of these respected writers, it’s a joy seeing just how each of them manages to find a common thread and to embellish it. Each story is chock full of historical references and the tenor of the times, and of course, each of the protagonists, well-drawn in their creators’ hands, act just as we remember them from their full-length adventures.