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A Vein of Deceit
Matthew Bartholomew Chronicles, No 15

by Susanna Gregory


        Where have the Michaelhouse College funds gone? Nobody seems to know why, although they have a large number of students, there is no money to pay for necessities such as food. Master Langelee has a confession to make; the Stanton Cups have been stolen. The thief looks to be the aggressive Osa Gosse and his malevolent sister, who are newly arrived in town, but even this pales when Bartholomew is summoned to a death bed. Why should wealthy Joan, a friend to his sister Edith, take pennyroyal to get rid of the child that she and her husband so desperately want? Surely it is a case of murder, and soon there is another suspicious death—but can somebody really die laughing?

This is the fifteenth Brother Michael-sized book of the madcap misadventures of the scholars of Michaelhouse, and as bizarre as ever. A wandering friar obsessed with coal, a dispute over land in Suffolk, burglaries, missing money, and two warring villages are some of the ingredients in this heady brew, which has as many bodies as ever. There is certainly plenty of plot and adventure in this novel, although not quite enough to fill the awesome length, especially before the party sets off for Suffolk and the story begins to heat up. Even when there is nothing much going on, readers can catch up with the latest from the cast of quirky but loveable characters, one of the boons of a long running series. If you like hilarity with your history and have been following this series since the beginning, this is an engaging tale, but donít start here as the books are consecutive and a large part of their appeal is their seamless flow of events. Nobody writes historical mystery quite like Ms Gregory!

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]

The Book

Sphere (Little, Brown)
25 June 2009
Historical Mystery / 1357 / Cambridge and rural Suffolk, England
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2009
© 2009