Happy World Book Day… or whatever it’s called. Happy St. David’s Day as well.
Here in Northernreader towers I’m still coasting along in a post – essay reading bubble. Two Carola Dunn murder mysteries have been consumed, as well as today’s book, The Mystery in the Minster, the Seventeenth Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew, by Susanna Gregory.
I’ve posted before about my love of historical mysteries, and Susanna Gregory’s books in particular. I find her other series a bit tougher -( I think that the Thomas Chaloner books are a little stronger and more like C. J. Sansom. Not that they are less well written at all, but somehow much more grim)
I usually wait for each of these books to go paperback and then buy them to read. I did see this one in hardback in my wonderful local library, so I thought that I would read it now then look for a cheap copy at some time to complete my set. And I couldn’t wait to read the next installment…
This book sees Matthew, Michael and assorted others travel from medieval Cambridge to York in search of an inheritance promised to the College. There is soon murder done, but not before we encounter some mincing priests with a shoe fetish, (Sex in the medieval City?) a rather racy nun and a feminist theologian. There are the usual skirmishes, death defying escapes, fights and general hunting for guilty parties (with some light pathology thrown in for the really ghoulish). Fans of Dorothy Sayers will recognise the sense of impending doom as a flood threatens to overwhelm the city, obscure any clues and threaten the righteous and the downright murderous alike.
Although set in a different place from most of the series, like the episode set in Lincoln this is a faithful representation of a city and buildings that survive until today. I enjoyed this book. I know know the characters well enough that I know what to expect, although I am sure that if you had not read any of the earlier books you would still enjoy this one. There are a lot of names to remember, and a little technical stuff about churches, prayers for the dead and wills.It is the sort of book that you can coast along on the general flow, without worrying about every detail. There are some classic moments here as the heroes throw themselves into the hunt for miscreants and documents, with plenty of ‘how will they get out of this?’ moments.
In short, if you like historical murder mysteries this is great. If you are addicted to Susanna Gregory books as I am, this is a really good episode in the ongoing series. Longer than Ellis Peters’ classics, less disciplined and with a wider scope, it is a good book.