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The Mark of a Murderer (Matthew Bartholomew Chronicles) Hardcover – June 1, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
This is the eleventh story to feature Matthew Bartholomew and Brother Michael in mediaeval Cambridge. Although it isn't necessary to read them in order, it's probably better to have read a couple of others first for the ending to have its intended effect.
I now have to wait nearly a year before the sequel comes out in hardback! Highly recommended.
Moving forward some months we find ourselves at Michaelhouse where Matthew is stealing out nightly to Mathilde's house and not being very inconspicuous about it. Being the gossip of the town doesn't sit well with our reflective sleuth and we quickly find Michael dragging him off to Merton Hall to investigate the stabbing of an Oxford scholar, Chesterfelde, one of a party of Oxford merchants and scholars who have left Oxford for a variety of reasons. Our suspect list builds quickly as Matthew discovers the real cause of death is a slashed wrist. In Michael's sights are Daurant (Matthew's Oxford teacher, a poppy juice addict), Polmorva (Matthew's sworn enemy from his Oxford days) and Spryngheuse (one of the monks involved in the early fight in Oxford that led to the riot). Aside from Chesterfelde, there was also Okehamptone who appears to have died from a fever en route. Accompanying them are three Oxford merchants, Wormynghalle, a tanner, Abergavenny, a burgess and Eu the spicer each tasked by Joan Goneral to find the murderer of her husband during the riots. His dying breath condemned a Cambridge scholar and they have come to seek his assailant.Read more ›
While I feel that the author, Susanna Gregory, has a fairly reliable grasp of Cambridge history the plot seemed to rely overly on coincidence. And sometimes she shows then tells again as though the reader might not be relied upon to catch on without one of the characters explaining things to us.
For instance, the portly Brother Michael, Proctor, has been eating too much. Matthew, the doctor, encourages him to eat less for the sake of his health. Matthew also muses to himself that if he were involved in a fracas where Michael was his backup while they were solving a crime that Michael might not be able come to his aid if Michael was too overweight. So of course a fracas occurs and Michael cannot come to his aid. Next thing we know Michael is cutting down on his food intake. Enough said, right? No, Matthew has to muse to himself again that Michael is dieting in because he found out that he would not be able to help his friend if he were too much overweight.
When the plot isn't being driven by coincidence it's being pushed by Matthew's not very good judgment when it comes to the character of others.
It probably sounds like I do not like this book, but that is not true. I did enjoy the 16 or so hours I spent in 14th century Cambridge but I wish Ms Gregory would hone her mystery skills a bit to equal her historical skills.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I like the historical references, the development of the characters and the venues. It is a good mystery and gives a good look at the 14th century in Oxford and Cambridge. Read morePublished on September 17, 2013 by Sandra K. Moody
As always, Gregory's stories are generally interesting. However, an economy of words would often help at times so that the story line does not become overly tedious. Read morePublished on March 23, 2008 by A_Bookaholic
I am an admirer of Gregory's Chronicles of Matthew Bartholomew series but this one falls short of her usual standard. Read morePublished on January 30, 2007 by Nhaka