Murder by the Book

Written by Susanna Gregory
Review by Sarah Johnson

Matthew Bartholomew has returned from his escapades in York to begin the final revisions with his students at his college in Cambridge. The academic community is divided, however, by the decision to create a Common Library, with book donators likely to ignore specific colleges in the future in favour of a central repository, open to all academia within the city. More worrying still are the increasing number of supporters of the library who are being found dead in suspicious circumstances.

The city Sheriff finds his castle stronghold under attack from a well-disciplined force, determined to wrest the King’s taxes for their own use. Suspicions abound regarding the possible leader of this group, and the French are likely to be involved, as they are under increasing pressure to raise funds following their defeat at Poitiers. Nowhere in the city appears immune in these worrying times, and with the feast of Corpus Christi approaching, the progress in solving these crimes is slow.

Gregory has cleverly incorporated historical facts and figures into her latest Bartholomew chronicle, giving rise to a more believable storyline, though the number of deaths per book is not very credible, even for the Middle Ages.