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The Tainted Relic (Medieval Murderers Group 1) Paperback – 5 Jun 2006

3.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK; New Ed edition (5 Jun. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416502130
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416502135
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 3.3 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 291,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Bernard Knight, a former Home Office pathologist, is the author of the acclaimed Crowner John series. Former police officer Susanna Gregory's novels feature Matthew Bartholomew, a C14th Cambridge physician. Karen Maitland is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling C14th mysteries Company of Liars and The Owl Killers. Philip Gooden writes Shakespearean murder mysteries. Ian Morson is the author of the Oxford-based Falconer series.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book, or almost anthology, has five 'acts' or novelettes together with a prologue and an epilogue on a single theme: the 'tainted' or cursed relic.
Each 'act' is by one of a number of well known medieval murder mystery authors. They have used it to each create a single stand-alone murder mystery, using their well known individual characters from their own series (such as Crowner John or Matthew Bartholomew) but incorporates the tainted relic of the title at a different period. Each story therefore also carries forward the history of this relic in a continuous time line.
I very much enjoyed most of the stories though the Elizabethan least of all but, there again, that is not my favourite historical period. A very good read.
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Format: Paperback
I am a great fan of this genre and was not disappointed. My favourite author is Susanna Gregory and her writing in this particular novel did not let me down. It also gave me an opportunity to decide whether to give other writers a look. The novel is split into acts, with each author writing a separate act. The story flowed and although there were clearly different styles involved, it did not detract from the desire to continue reading.
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Format: Paperback
A group of authors contribute to a tale that takes place over a period of time. It is well done. But, I am prejudiced in that I think that Bernard Knight and Micheal Jecks are the best of the group of authors. I don't say that the others are bad, no. But, Knight and Jecks just have that something extra. As of this writing, I have all in this series.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
To quote Monty Python: "And now for something completely different". Basically one story, or at least some stories with a common subject, written by six (if you count Beaufort and Gregory for two) autors, each with a chapter in his/her own style and own 'players', and in the period of time they are used to. Even so it reads as one history.
The 'Sword of Shame' is now calling me to read it. If that is as good as this one I will definitely go for more.
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Format: Paperback
The reading of this novel was helpful to me because it gave me a chance to sample the writing style of five different* authors. The basic story follows the travels of a religious relic from Jerusalem to modern day London. This relic was said to have been cursed by it's caretaker when the soldiers of the Crusade invaded the city of Jerusalem and committed wholesale slaughter, often for absolutely no reason whatsoever. According to the curse, any person who actually touched the relic itself, not just the container, would die as soon as the relic had passed into the hands of another. The segments are written in novella form, meaning that there are no chapter breaks, merely spaces within the story which signify passage of time or moving to the perspective of another character. This is how the story progresses:

Prologue - Jerusalem 1100, pages 1-27, written by Simon Beaufort*
Act One - Devonshire 1194, pages 28-108, written by Bernard Knight
Act Two - Oxford 1269, pages 109-194, written by Ian Morson
Act Three - Lincolnshire, 1323, pages 195-293, written by Michael Jecks
Act Four - Cambridge, 1353, pages 294-425, written by Susanna Gregory*
Act Five - London, 16??, pages 426-500, written by Philip Gooden
Epilogue - London, 2005, two pages, written by Bernard Knight
*Beaufort is the pseudonym of Gregory

I had already read a novel by one of the authors featured here and had not liked the style of writing, but I did want to use this method to find out whether I might enjoy reading the works of some of the other authors. The book served it's purpose in that way, but this particular novel is not something I would ever wish to read again.
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This seemed like an excellent idea in theory and great to have so many writers collaborating in this way. In practice the book itself was very disappointing because each story was so similar to the previous version. The nature of the item which is passed on from writer to writer is so specific that the stories end up as very similar narratives. The relic is cursed so that anyone who touches it dies as soon as they relinquish possession of it. Each story develops in an extremely similar way and the revelations about the relic's history are generally similarly handled.
The fact that the episodes are set within such a comparatively limited time span also adds to the feeling of deja vu as ingredients of the world of this period recur repeatedly. Despite this I did not come away knowing anything more in detail of the historical background or even of religious relics. The fact that this was a series of short stories meant there was no momentum or feeling of development.
In short, I felt the authors hamstrung themselves in this first collaboration by choosing an over-specific linking object that dictated the shape of the narratives and gave little scope for individuality. I hope maybe further collaborations learnt from and avoided this - but don't feel sufficiently motivated to find out.
As a regular reader of historical whodunnits and of some of these authors I had high hopes for this and was sorry not to enjoy it more.
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