In the vein of Ellis Peters’s Cadfael series.
Who is Matthew Bartholomew?
Coming from Cambridge academic who was previously a coroner’s officer Susanna Gregory (the pseudonym of Elizabeth Cruwys), this series is about Matthew Bartholomew who investigates murders in medieval time.
Matthew Bartholomew is an unorthodox physician living in fourteenth-century Cambridge. He is a master at the College of Michaelhouse at the University of Cambridge, where he teaches medicine.
Matthew Bartholomew Books in Order:
- A Plague On Both Your Houses – Matthew Bartholomew, physician to Michaelhouse college in medieval Cambridge, is as worried as anyone about the pestilence that is ravaging Europe and seems to be approaching England. But he is distracted by the sudden and inexplicable death of the Master of Michaelhouse – a death the University authorities do not want investigated.
- An Unholy Alliance – In 1350, the people of Cambridge are struggling to overcome the effects of the Black Death – and with a high mortality rate among priests and monks, the townsfolk are vulnerable to sinister cults that have sprung up. At Michaelhouse, Matthew Bartholomew is training new physicians when the body of a friar is found in the massive chest that the University uses to store precious documents.
- A Bone of Contention – Cambridge in 1352 is rife with terrible clashes between the fledgling University and the townspeople. Matthew Bartholomew, physician and teacher at Michaelhouse college, is trying to keep the peace when a student is murdered and the town plunges into chaos. At the same time a skeleton is discovered that is rumoured to belong to a local martyr, and Bartholomew has his hands full investigating both deaths while the rioting intensifies…
- A Deadly Brew – The winter of 1353, Matthew Bartholomew is called to look into the deaths of three members of the University of who died from drinking poisoned wine, and soon he stumbles upon criminal activities that implicate his relatives, friends and colleagues – so he must solve the case before matters in the town get out of hand…
- A Wicked Deed – Matthew Bartholomew is travelling with a party from the college to accept the gift of the living of a parish in Suffolk. One of his companions, Unwin, an unworldly scholar, is to be installed as priest. Their journey is not without incident, so they reach their destination with some relief. But their thoughts of recovering while enjoying the local Pentecostal Fair are soon curtailed, as they are immediately thrust into the machinations of local boundary disputes between three landowners.
- A Masterly Murder – Michaelhouse is in uproar: Kenyngham the saintly but ageing Master has announced his retirement and with unseemly haste Runham arranges his own ‘election’ as his successor. Within days he has dismissed several members of staff and is making life so unpleasant for the scholars that even Matthew Bartholomew believes his future as physician and teacher at the college is untenable. Then Runham is murdered.
- An Order for Death – It is a time of division and denomination at the great University. The Carmelites and the Dominicans are at theological loggerheads, so much so that the more fanatical members are willing to swap rational judgement for a deadlier form of debate. And no sooner is Carmelite friar Faricius found stabbed than a Junior Proctor is found hanging from the walls of the Dominican Friary. The longer their enquiries go on, the more Bartholomew and Michael realise that the murders are less to do with high-minded academic principles, and more to do with far baser instincts.
- A Summer of Discontent – It’s August, 1354, and physician-monk Matthew Bartholomew jumps at the chance to travel to Ely with his friend and colleague Brother Michael, as it will give him a unique opportunity to study in the richly stocked library of the Benedictine priory. Michael has been summoned to the city by his bishop, but it isn’t until they arrive that they discover the reason – the bishop has been accused of murder. The charge seems ludicrous, but Michael takes the investigation seriously and energetically sets about his task.
- A Killer in Winter – As Christmas of 1354 approaches, the town is gripped by the worst blizzards in living memory. As physician of Michaelhouse, Matthew Bartholomew struggles to help the poorer citizens cope with freezing temperatures while his colleagues prepare for the festivities. The weather has trapped many travellers in the town, including Philippa and her wealthy husband, Walter, and Matthew hopes their stay will be brief – but a man found dead in a nearby church turns out to be Walter’s servant. And then events conspire to ensure that Walter will never leave Cambridge again…
- The Hand of Justice – In February 1355, amid the worst snows in living memory, two well-born murderers return to Cambridge after receiving the King’s pardon – but they show no remorse, and are in fact ready to confront those who helped convict them. When Matthew Bartholomew is called to the local mill to examine two corpses, he and Brother Michael know who to question, but in the fledgling university city, nothing is ever as straightforward as it seems…
- The Mark of a Murderer – On St Scholastica’s Day in February 1355, Oxford explodes in one of the most serious riots of its turbulent history. Fearing for their lives, the scholars flee the city, and some choose the University at Cambridge as their temporary refuge. However, they don’t remain safe for long. Within hours of their arrival, the first of their number dies, followed quickly by a second.
- The Tarnished Chalice – On a bitter winter evening in 1356, Matthew Bartholomew, Brother Michael and their book-bearer Cynric arrive in Lincoln. Michael is to accept an honour from the cathedral, and Bartholomew is looking for the woman he wants to marry. It is not long before they learn that the friary in which they are staying is not the safe haven they imagine – one guest has already been murdered.
- To Kill or Cure – In the year 1357, Cambridge University is in dire financial straits: the town’s landlords are demanding an extortionate rent rise for the students’ hostels and the plague years have left the colleges with scant resources. Tension between town and gown is at boiling point and soon explodes into violence and death. Into this maelstrom comes a charismatic physician whose healing methods owe more to magic than medicine – but his success threatens Matthew Bartholomew’s professional reputation, and his life …
- The Devil’s Disciples – Rumours of plague threaten Cambridge again, ten years after the Black Death had almost laid waste to the town. Neither the church nor its priests had defended people from the disease and now they turn elsewhere for protection, to pagan ritual and magical potions. It is a ripe atmosphere to be exploited by the mysterious ‘Sorcerer’, an anonymous magician whose increasing influence seems certain to oust both civil and church leaders from power. One murder, another unexplained death, a font filled with blood, a desecreated grave – all bear the hallmarks of the Sorcerer’s hand, only the identity of the magician remains a mystery.
- A Vein of Deceit – There is something very amiss in the finances of Michaelhouse. Despite a new influx of well-heeled students, there is an acute lack of funds for the upkeep of the buildings, even for decent provisions. It is only when the Brother in charge of the account books dies unexpectedly that some sort of explanation is revealed: he has been paying large amounts of money for goods the college itself has never received. Although shocked by this evidence of fraud, Matthew is more concerned with the disappearance from his herbarium of a quantity of pennyroyal.
- The Killer of Pilgrims – 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 targeting 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.
- Murder in the Minster – In 1358, Matthew Bartholomew is among the small party which arrives in the bustling city, where the increasing wealth of the merchants is unsettling the established order, and where a French invasion is an ever-present threat to its port. But soon he and his colleagues learn that many of the Archbishop’s executors have died in unexplained circumstances and that the codicil naming Michaelhouse as a beneficiary cannot be found…
- Murder by the Book – It is drawing near to the end of term, and the University at Cambridge is in turmoil over the opening of a new Common Library. There is an attack on one of the masters at a meeting to discuss the matter, and a body is found floating in the pond in the library’s garden on the eve of its opening. Meanwhile, there are rumours of a large force of dangerous smugglers lurking in the Fens. Aided by their friend Sheriff Tulyet, Bartholomew and Michael must thwart the invaders before the Feast of Corpus Christi the following week.
- The Lost Abbot – In the summer of 1358 Matthew Bartholomew finds himself one of a party of Bishop’s Commissioners, sent north to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the Abbot of Peterborough. He and his colleagues quickly learn that behind the beautiful façade of the Benedictine monastery there is a vicious struggle for power, and that not everyone would be happy to see the prelate’s safe return.
- Death of a Scholar – In the summer of 1358 the physician Matthew Bartholomew returns to Cambridge to learn that his beloved sister is in mourning after the unexpected death of her husband, Oswald Stanmore. Aware that his son has no interest in the cloth trade that made his fortune and reputation, Oswald has left the business to his widow, but a spate of burglaries in the town distracts Matthew from supporting Edith in her grief and attempting to keep the peace between her and her wayward son.
- A Poisonous Plot – In 1358, over a century after its foundation in Cambridge, the college of Michaelhouse is facing a serious shortfall of funds and competition from upstarts rivals such as Zachary Hostel. Their problems are made no easier by the hostility of the town’s inhabitants who favour the university moving away to the Fens. This simmering tension threatens to break into violence when a well-known tradesman is found dead in one of the colleges. Matthew Bartholomew knows he was poisoned but cannot identify the actual substance, never mind the killer.
- A Grave Concern – Identifying the murderer of the Chancellor of the University is not the only challenge facing physician Matthew Bartholomew. Many of his patients have been made worse by the ministrations of a ‘surgeon’ recently arrived from Nottingham, his sister is being rooked by the mason she has commissioned to build her husband’s tomb, and his friend, Brother Michael, has been offered a Bishopric which will cause him to leave Cambridge.
- The Habit of Murder – In 1360 a deputation from Cambridge ventures to the Suffolk town of Clare in the hope that the wealthy Elizabeth de Burgh has left a legacy to Michaelhouse. Yet when they arrive they discover that the report of her death is false and that the college seems destined for bankruptcy. Determined to see if some of its well-heeled citizens can be persuaded to sponsor Michaelhouse, Matthew Bartholomew, Brother Michael and Master Langelee become enmeshed in the town’s politics. They quickly discover that a great many other people in Clare have recently met untimely deaths
- The Sanctuary Murders – In 1360 Edward III issues a call to arms, as sporadic attacks by the French threaten to turn into a full-blown invasion. In Cambridge, fear of the enemy is magnified by the belief that foreign agents are lurking in the area. Tension runs ever higher as rumours and ignorance fan the flames of suspicion amid preparations for war. And then the first murder occurs – of a French scholar living in the town.
- The Chancellor’s Secret – In 1360, the Great Bridge over the River Cam is close to collapse. To repair it will cost the town and the University dear, especially if its rotten wood is replaced by more durable stone. As arguments rage over raising the money other, equally heated, differences are coming to the boil over the election of a new Chancellor. While the majority support Brother Michael for the post, at least one of his opponents aims to seize it by fair means or foul. Then the discovery of a body under the bridge and the disappearance of two scholars throws a more sinister shadow over both disputes.