A Grave Concern: The Twenty Second Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew by Susanna Gregory

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A Grave Concern: The Twenty Second Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew by Susanna Gregory

Category: Crime (Historical)
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Gregory must be one of the best authors for creating a real feeling for time and place. It's the 22nd book in the series but the magic hasn't faded.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448/15h 35m Date: June 2016
Publisher: Sphere
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0751549799

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Chancellor Tynkell was kindly, but ineffectual and everyone was stunned by his murder, not least because it happened very publicly - on top of the church tower, in a high wind with a lot of people watching. Then the murderer disappeared. Some people saw a black cloak being blown along to the marshes outside Cambridge and swore that it was the devil's work, but physician Matthew Bartholomew and Brother Michael knew better and were determined to prove it. These are not Bartholomew's only problems though: a 'barber surgeon' (free shave or haircut with every treatment) recently arrived from Nottingham is causing problems rather than curing illnesses. His sister is struggling to get her husband's tomb built by the mason she commissioned to do the work: like builders everywhere throughout the ages he keeps moving from job to job and never finishing any. Then Brother Michael is offered a Bishopric - in Rochester.

The new chancellor will be elected and Brother Michael is keen that this should be a man of his choosing - or put another way, someone he can manipulate, even from a distance. There are five contenders and the campaigning is fierce (I'm writing this in the closing stages of the EU referendum and as I read it all seemed uncomfortably familiar with all its claims and counterclaims) but it's all made much worse when more deaths follow hot on the heels of the first.

There is no one quite like Susanna Gregory for creating a vivid sense of place and atmosphere: you get a real feel for fourteenth century Cambridge and the surrounding countryside. It's many years since I last read a Matthew Bartholomew mystery from Gregory but I recollected that vivid feeling for the period but also that I was slightly underwhelmed by the plot. I didn't have that problem this time: I stopped counting at six deaths in suspicious circumstances and gave up wondering just how many perpetrators there were: Gregory's control of the plot lines is masterly and I was stunned by the denouement. Then I went back and did some rereading and couldn't understand why I hadn't seen it all before!

In addition to reading the book I also listened to an audio download (which I bought myself) narrated by David Thorpe. It began a little steadily but soon warmed up and I was impressed by the number of voices at Thorpe's command. It was perhaps made easier by the fact that there are only a limited number of female voices but the variety was good, including regional accents and I was never in any doubt about who was speaking. The fifteen and a half hours of the recording went all too quickly and I'd be delighted to listen to more from Thorpe.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals you might also enjoy the investigations of Hew Cullan.

Susanna Gregory's Matthew Bartholomew Novels in Chronological Order

Buy A Grave Concern: The Twenty Second Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew by Susanna Gregory at Amazon You could get a free audio download of A Grave Concern: The Twenty Second Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew by Susanna Gregory with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy A Grave Concern: The Twenty Second Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew by Susanna Gregory at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Grave Concern: The Twenty Second Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew by Susanna Gregory at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy A Grave Concern: The Twenty Second Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew by Susanna Gregory at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Grave Concern: The Twenty Second Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew by Susanna Gregory at Amazon.com.