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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Death by cake
Gregory’s twentieth Matthew Bartholomew mystery is titled “Death of a Scholar” but it might be better to call it “Death by cake” given the pastry murders that abound her. She has us back in Cambridge in the autumn of 1358. A triple prologue gives us the death of Matt’s brother-in-law, Oswald Stanmore; the rapid foundation of the ninth...
Published 11 months ago by travelswithadiplomat

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2.0 out of 5 stars Not her usual standard, seemed rushed!
If, like me, you are a huge fan of Susanna Gregory's Matthew Bartholomew, then this might come as a bit of a disappontment to you. Unlike the first 19 books, this one feels like it was written in a rush. It was totally lacking in the usual detailed descriptions of 14th century Cambridge, the college, the meals etc that usually bring Matthews' world to life as you read...
Published 1 month ago by SuziB


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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Death by cake, 16 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Death of a Scholar: The Twentieth Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew (Kindle Edition)
Gregory’s twentieth Matthew Bartholomew mystery is titled “Death of a Scholar” but it might be better to call it “Death by cake” given the pastry murders that abound her. She has us back in Cambridge in the autumn of 1358. A triple prologue gives us the death of Matt’s brother-in-law, Oswald Stanmore; the rapid foundation of the ninth and newest college, Winwick Hall; and the ‘resurrection’ of master felon, John Potmoor. Add to that the opening scene of the death of the titular scholar, Geoffrey de Elvesmere in a latrine and we’re at a sprint. By the end eight more corpses, a riot, and more convoluted intrigue than you’d expect will make any reader’s brain hurt.
Matthew and Michael are back from Peterborough to find a new college rising out of the mud of Cambridge with unseemly haste. Sherriff Dick Tulyet is out of town; de Stannell, his deputy, in charge. John Winwick is determined to make a name for himself and has sponsored the expansion of the scholars of Cambridge in a manner that has got the rest of the intellectuals grumbling into their Agatha-brewed potage. Of course, this gives Gregory a chance to allow a host of new characters into Matt and Michael’s lives. The new fellows at Winwick comprise Provost Illesy and the tutors Ratclyfe, Nerli, Lawrence, and Bon. There’s a new apothecary in town, Eyer, plus the new vicar of St Mary’s, Heyford. A new college has meant a flood of matriculands, headed by the obnoxious Goodwyn, egged on by the ever more surly Richard Stanmore who is fast becoming a chore to both his mother Edith and his uncle Matt. Dozens more inveigle their way into the mystery, the author handling them with the literary deftness that is her hallmark.
This mystery is particularly confounding, the lengthy riotous denouement revealing a host of nefarious characters and motives who literally bring the house down. Matt’s trysts with Julitta continue in this novel, Michael has to deal with the penurious state of Michaelhouse after a robbery (in fact seven hostels, three Colleges and a Priory are robbed with several town houses), and there is a series of debates on the theological concepts of apostolic poverty – which is compounded by a ludicrous yet heretical text the ever-dirty William pens to the delight of a blackmailer. Not much to solve in a week before the inauguration of the new College. All of which has Matt forced to indulge in a bit of human dissection to prove how people have died. As Michael encourages him:
“What is not right is failing to do all in our power to clear his name and ensure he lies in the grave he deserves. I am not happy with desecration either, but I am prepared to set aside my aversion for the sake of justice.”
At the heart of this novel is greed and personal advancement. Selfishness abounds, prosperity is desired and “it is common knowledge that if you want a college to prosper, you should appoint a villain to mind its coffers.” Indeed.
This time fans of ‘Cluedo’ will have a field day given it’s a glut of ‘Miss Scarlett with the dormirella in the cellar’ or ‘Colonel Mustard with the sword in the latrine’. People are dispatched through all manner of nasty accidents. Cambridge is sorely in trouble this time with “bloodshed, as the University goes to war with the town and itself.” Yet by the end of it, Matthew’s kindly nature and unfailing medical philanthropy saves him and the scholars . It is his “ruffianly clients” who save him and Michaelhouse and, as he wryly observes “I would not change them for world.”
And, for this reader, I would not change Susanna Gregory’s storytelling for the world, either. Peerless.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not her usual standard, seemed rushed!, 15 April 2015
By 
SuziB - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Death of a Scholar: The Twentieth Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew (Kindle Edition)
If, like me, you are a huge fan of Susanna Gregory's Matthew Bartholomew, then this might come as a bit of a disappontment to you. Unlike the first 19 books, this one feels like it was written in a rush. It was totally lacking in the usual detailed descriptions of 14th century Cambridge, the college, the meals etc that usually bring Matthews' world to life as you read. Instead more time seemed to be wasted on explaining (too briefly) the basics of Michealhouse & the main characters personalities (which we already know well from the first 19 books!) I understand that Susanna has to cater for readers that perhaps have never read the others, but it was done in an offhand, almost uncaring way that left those of us who know the characters a little baffled & those who's first meeting with Matthew was this book wondering (I imagine) how her books get rave reviews! The plot itself was fine, but the whole book from start to finish screamed of being a rush job written carelessly to appease publishers, rather than entertain her loyal fans (who after all are the ones who pay hers & her publishers wages!) Had I have read this book 1st I never would have read any of the others & would have marked her down as a mediocre author. I'm hoping that the usually brilliant author that is Susannah Gregory has just, as a one off, written one mediocre book & that she'll be back on top form for the next one. I do love this books usually, but I would have rather waited an extra year & had a book worth reading, than be getting 1 rubbish read a year!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Susanna at her finest., 4 July 2014
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Just another brilliant book. What more can you say.
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5.0 out of 5 stars another good read from Susanna Gregory a very good read for ..., 19 May 2015
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This review is from: Death of a Scholar: The Twentieth Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew (Kindle Edition)
another good read from Susanna Gregory a very good read for when on holiday as you will not want to put it down, sad than some people will no longer be in the chronicle but happy to see some other leaving
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding plot and characterisation, 20 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Death of a Scholar: The Twentieth Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew (Kindle Edition)
Gregory's ability to lay out an exciting, interesting and twisted plot never fails to please me ! Bartholomew's learning, knowledge and attitudes which are slightly ahead of his time are refreshing and the mixture of humour among the horror and shock of what people will do to each other for totally selfish reasons is gripping.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Death of a Scholar by Susanna Gregory, 2 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Death of a Scholar: The Twentieth Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew (Kindle Edition)
Star rating 5

Best medieval thriller.It consists of all I like in this type of book. Good research ,humour and realalistic dialogue.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Continuation of a Wonderful Series, 18 Jun. 2014
By 
J. Chippindale (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
The novels featuring Matthew Bartholomew are still my favourite series of books by Susanna Gregory. They started in 1996 with A Plague On Both Your Houses and this is now the twentieth in the series, and was awaited with anticipation. The character of Matthew, a doctor of medicine and fellow of Michaelhouse, Cambridge, divides his time between teaching his students at Michaelhouse and tending to the medical needs of many of the town's residents. His sometimes unorthodox methods when ministering to the sick frequently cause alarm among his colleagues, who mutter behind their hands of heresy and the workings of the devil. On top of all this he is the official corpse examiner for his friend, and Proctor, Brother Michael and is therefore by association drawn into any untimely death in the town, a not uncommon occurrence with the underlying tension between town and gown. Matthew's powers of deduction, along with his medical knowledge have helped to solve a number of sudden deaths within the confines of the university and the demise of several townsfolk.

Matthew and Michael return from a trip to Peterborough to find the residents of Cambridge up in arms at the thought of a new college being built in a town already bursting at the seams with unwanted scholars. The tension between town and gown, always simmering just beneath the surface looks as though it is ready to boil over. Several murders take place in this book and the townsfolk and scholars are more than ready to blame one another for the deaths. Matthew is inadvertently at the centre of the problem, when having saved a well-known rogue from death, violent crime in the town increases overnight. Matthew is also weighed down with the untimely death of his brother-in-law, but has little time to devote to the comfort of a sister who is very dear to him. Edith, Matthew's sister, has in turn her own problems, not only having to cope with the sudden death of her husband, but also the antics of a rebellious son. To cap all of this the Junior Proctor is killed by an arrow, much to the anger and dismay of Brother Michael.

The interaction between Matthew and Brother Michael causes many amusing moments for the reader, as it has throughout the series. Also Brother Michael's prodigious appetite for anything edible, while at the same time being at pains to tell anyone who will listen that his intake of food would barely keep a sparrow alive is a constant amusing diversion, running throughout the books. The respect that each man has for the other, though each is at pains to keep it well hidden, adds to the warmth of the characters. Fortunately for fans of the series there is a new one promised for 2015 A Poisonous Plot: The Twenty First Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 7 Sept. 2014
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The latest book is up to the usual high standard, can't wait for the next chronicle.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good and interesting tale., 28 Aug. 2014
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Very good and interesting tale of medieval England and the risks in lifestyle,
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Death of a Scholar, 22 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Death of a Scholar: The Twentieth Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew (Kindle Edition)
I have faithfully followed through all the books featuring Bartholomew and Michael noting how their characters have developed and so naturally needed to continue the saga.
Susanna Gregory never hesitates to kill off primary characters throughout her novels and here we see the demise of Matthews brother in law.each novel is compelling but the older novels either had more intrigue or I am getting used to the ploys used or the edge has left these later novels,
I enjoyed the book because it encapsulates the period so well and gives a useful picture of the Universities at this time and the idiosyncrasies of the various heads of the Universities.
Unlike Barnaby Susanna Gregory does bring back older characters and in each book I await the reappearance of Matilda .Until she appears I can expect another book to read and enjoy
Another cracking read.I am never disappointed
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