The Stonemason’s Tale (Oxford Medieval Mysteries 6)

Written by Ann Swinfen
Review by Sally Zigmond

Spring 1354. Workmen are busy rebuilding and extending the relatively new Queen’s College. The lives and livelihoods of Nicholas Elyot and his neighbours are disturbed by bangs, crashes and stone dust and sawdust flying in the air and settling on every surface within and without. That is bad enough, but when it appears someone is determined to sabotage the whole building process both by knocking down the newly constructed walls, pillars and roofs and injuring and even killing the workmen, somebody must step to the fore. With the sheriff away in Banbury dealing with unrest there, who else is determined to get to the bottom of this latest series of crimes but Nicholas Elyot. When a young student goes missing, he wonders whether this has something to do with a series of local fatal accidents. In the absence of the sheriff, Nicholas needs to do his utmost to discover the reason why innocent stonemasons and carpenters keep having serious or fatal accidents. Could it have to do with the deadly rivalry of two northern English dynasties?

This is my favourite of the Oxford Medieval Mysteries because the author’s knowledge of Oxford is very well researched, and the story is full of surprising twists and turns. Not only that, Nicholas’s personal life is reaching crisis point. He has been falling in love with Emma Thorgold ever since we met her in The Novice’s Tale. It is such a pity Ann Swinfen died before she could finish the series. I thoroughly recommend this series which is best to read in order.