The Chancellor’s Secret (Chronicles of Matthew Bartholomew)
Stamped across the front of this book, the 25th in the series, is “the FINAL Bartholomew chronicle”. The book does have something of the feel of a last hurrah about it, complete with a happy ending that feels ever so slightly contrived. Nevertheless, this is a competent book, building on the wealth of knowledge that Susanna Gregory has of the era; the reader is once again immersed in a world where the Church is the major source of learning, where women play a mostly secondary role, and where the loss of a bridge can have devastating effects on the life of a town. And then there are the bodies—murder mysteries piled high, false trails and uncooperative witnesses abound, and poor Matt has other pressing issues that he would prefer to be dealing with, not least a mysterious outbreak of the flux. The resolution to this medical problem, as well as to the whodunit, is both surprising and satisfying.
I am not a huge fan of murder mysteries, finding them to be sometimes a little formulaic, and I have only dipped in and out of the earlier Bartholomew books; but I found myself sad that the book had come to an end. (I also enjoyed the Historical Note, full of interesting stuff.) I’m sure I join Susanna Gregory’s fans in hoping that Bartholomew has simply changed jobs, and there is more to come in his new career.