A Killer of Pilgrims

A Killer of PilgrimsAnother addition to this excellently researched, truly authentic historical fiction mystery stories This one continues with the politics and economics of the university town, the rough and tumble world of competing and quarreling parts of the university at Cambridge and the hard life of the protagonist detective Bartholomew, the best kind of Medieval physician The mystery turns on stolen pilgrim badges and crass and selfish rich who would buy themselves blessings. I love Susanna Gregory s Matthew Bartholomew historical mystery series Each new book is great and each plot is very different from the previous books in the series This book is set in Cambridge in the winter of 1358 Cambridge is undergoing a cold and miserable winter, and there is still plenty of unrest and rivalry between town and gown Then citizens are being murdered and robbed Matthew and Michael know that there are evil forces at work in their city, and they need to find the source in order to avoid a huge blowup in the city I love the mix of true historical figures and Ms Gregory s fictional characters, and I love the fast paced plots that are de rigeur for all the books in this series I never tire of this wonderful series. When A Wealthy Benefactor Is Found Dead In Michaelhouse, Brother Michael And Matthew Bartholomew Must Find The Culprit Before The College Is Accused Of Foul Play At The Same Time, Cambridge Is Plagued By A Mystery Thief, Who Is Targetting Rich Pilgrims Moreover, Pranksters Are At Large In The University, Staging A Series Of Practical Jokes That Are Growing Increasingly Dangerous, And That Are Dividing Scholars Into Bitterly Opposed Factions Bartholomew And Michael Soon Learn That Their Various Mysteries Are Connected, And It Becomes A Race Against Time To Catch The Killer Thief Before The University Explodes Into A Violent Conflict That Could Destroy It Forever This is the sixteenth of a series of books set in 14th century Cambridge featuring Matthew Bartholemew, a philanthropic physician and his sleuthing partner, the well fed Senior Proctor, Brother Michael Both are also academics at Michaelhouse one of Cambridge s poorer colleges and while Michael is charged with keeping law and order within the university, Matthew assists him using his skills as a doctor to examine corpses for causes of death.When a wealthy donor is found dead in the grounds of Michaelhouse, Brother Michael and Bartholemew must identify the murderer quickly to protect them from the taint of scandal Meanwhile, a ruthless yellow haired killer is systematically stealing signacula from pilgrims These tokens which signify a visit to a shrine or other holy place confer blessings on the owner and often being valuable are highly prized possessions To add to Brother Michael s woes, he is struggling to contain the various factions in the University behind a series of escalating practical jokes that threaten to explode into a full scale riot.As in previous books, Michaelhouse is poverty stricken and its fellows and students are enduring poor food and the privations of a missing roof which is being repaired at the expense of a rich unpleasant old woman, Emma Colvylle, who expects free medical treatment from Matthew in return for her generosity The usual tensions between townsfolk, colleges and the hostels, the latter especially resentful of their relatively wealthier fellow scholars in the colleges, are exacerbated by the hard winter and rising prices.Susanna Gregory captures medieval Cambridge perfectly and there are a number of well drawn characters, particularly the fellows of Michaelhouse who are an ill matched argumentative group with distinctive personalities The beliefs of medieval pilgrims and their fervent search for solace, healing and a reprieve from purgatory are well described There is atmosphere, tension and puzzles galore culminating in a thrilling conclusion.As with her Thomas Chaloner series, Susanna Gregory uses real historical figures, situations and events as a basis for her fictional mysteries and to complement her invented characters and this works very well lending the books an air of authenticity I was certainly surprised when the villains were revealed and this is a testament to her clever storytelling I haven t been reading these books in order, but am loving them nonetheless and liked this one particularly. I just love this series In some of the recent books in this series, the ridiculous characters overwhelmed those with any amount of common sense The balance in this book is somewhat better Even with some new students and new fellows of the college, however, many of the conversations between characters feel a little stale the same sorts of conversations happened in the last book and the book before that and the book before thatI have read this series since the beginning Initially I liked it so much I bought the hardbacks from the UK and read them the day I received them Then I bought the hardbacks in the US a few months after the UK release and read them the day I received them The next one I may try to get from the library rather than buy it at all. One of my favorite series Give them a try I so enjoy this series about life in Cambridge in the 14th century. The conflict in this installment is between the Colleges and the Hostels I admit I don t completely understand the differences between the two, but jealousy is one of the reasons for the conflict the Hostels perceive wrongly in some cases, Michaelhouse, for example the Colleges as wealthier than the Hostels Bartholomew has acquired a wealthy patient, Emma de Colvyll, who gained much of her wealth taking advantage of survivors of the Black Death therefore, she is disliked and feared by most townspeople Bartholomew is also wary of her and her family Another plot element involves those penitents who, having survived the plague, travel on pilgrimages in order to lessen their time in Purgatory Like modern tourists who post vacation pics on social media , these pilgrims often buy souvenirs for bragging rights, some of which are finely made from precious metals and gemstones and are quite valuable The pilgrim badges are called signacula Latin signaculum is the singular There is a thief in Cambridge who is targeting these signacula and the only description is that he has yellow hair.When a dead tavern owner is found in the Michaelhouse courtyard, Michael swings into full investigation mode Between the thefts and the murder and the College Hostel conflict, he knows he needs to work quickly to prevent full on rioting.As I ve said before, I read historical mysteries for the characters and historical details than the crimes, but the crime bits in this series are pretty well done And I have to keep reading to see if Bartholomew is ever reunited with Matilde. This one looks at the pilgrim trade of the 13th century Pilgrimages were important after the plague and they were profitable for the institutions holding relics that attracted pilgrims There was also a thriving trade in pilgrim badges which showed off to the world how pious you were, even if you actually hadn t been to the place the pilgrim badge was from When there is a series of thefts of pilgrim badges, Michael investigates, on top of this is of course some murders and the backdrop of increasing tension between the colleges and the hostels.One nitpick for this one, it mentions the fee Michael pays Matthew as his corpse examiner being three pence, has Michael turned uncharacteristically mean, I m sure in earlier books the fee was four pence Every time it was mentioned, it jarred me out of the story as I m sure it was a mistake.

Elizabeth Cruwys, a Cambridge academic who was previously a coroner s officer She writes detective fiction, and is noted for her series of mediaeval mysteries featuring Matthew Bartholomew, a teacher of medicine and investigator of murders in 14th century Cambridge.She is married to author

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  • Hardcover
  • 416 pages
  • A Killer of Pilgrims
  • Susanna Gregory
  • English
  • 11 September 2019
  • 9781847442987

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