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Publisher: Little, Brown
Release Date: June 1, 2005
ISBN: 0316861855
Format: Paperback
Buy it at Amazon US
Genre:   Historical Crime [1355 Cambridge, England]
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Rachel A Hyde

The Hand of Justice 
Matthew Barthlomew Chronicles, No 10 
By Susanna Gregory

      After a severe winter, the snows melt and a body is revealed, and you can be sure with a series that more will follow. Soon after two people are found bizarrely murdered in one of the local mills, and two bullyboys are back in town with the King’s pardon. Immediately there is trouble, with a troublesome family stirring it up and a mysterious relic, on which the opinion is divided as to whether it belonged to a saint or a simpleton. Matt is going to have his hands full with more conundrums to solve and trouble to avert.

       Tongue firmly in cheek, Susanna Gregory has come up with yet another tubby tome full of fun, farce and fantasy as well as a whole pile of bodies and a teasing whodunit. It is about twice as long as the average crime novel, and even allowing for historical detail and comedic relief it flags in places, particularly in the middle. The plot is convoluted and the body count high, while the outrageous cast of characters provides the perfect foil to the sometimes-repetitive crime solving as Matt and Michael hoof it round the city to look for clues. Matt is ostensibly the main character, although one of the least interesting and serves as a straight man to the wilder element and the long-suffering foil to the flamboyant and secretive Michael. They are surely the Watson and Holmes (in that order) of historical crime…the book could stand quite a bit of editing, but as ever it is all good fun and I will continue to enjoy this unusual, highly imaginative and very different series.

Reviews of other titles in this series

A Masterly Murder, No 6     [review]
The Hand of Justice, No 10     [review]
The Mark of a Murderer, No 11     [review]
The Tarnished Chalice, No 12     [review]
To Kill or Cure, No 13     [review]
The Devil’s Disciples, No 14     [review]
A Vein of Deceit, No 15     [review]
The Killer of Pilgrims, No 16     [review]
Mystery in the Minster, No 17     [review]
Murder By The Book, No 18    [review]

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