A second visit to the 14th century and Cambridge, England, once again focuses on physician-teacher Matthew Bartholomew and his friend Brother Michael, a Senior Proctor, both living at Michaelhouse, one of several competitive, quarrelsome college residences (An Unholy Alliance, 1996). This time out, though, there's something more menacing than intraschool rivalry. Some behind-the-scenes force is pitting townspeople against students- -inciting riots, killing in the streets, and more. Then Scots student James Menzie of David's Hostel is found dead, a precious ring missing from his finger. The ring's mate belongs to Dominica, daughter of Principal Lydgate of Godwinsson Hostel. Dominica is also soon to disappear, and a twin to the missing ring will be found on a hand dragged from the town's sewer system--a ditch--by Master Thorpe of Valence Marie house, and will be declared by him to be a sacred relic. All of this is but a tiny sample of the many violent confrontations; characters venal and benign; and plots and subplots that abound here in an undisciplined, unbelievable saga of vengeance sought against a whole town for a decades-old grievance.
Susanna Gregory loves to create a complex tale! This is no exception and has multiple layers that keep you guessing and engaged. Cambridge, post plague, is still not a safe city and old injustices run deep - not forgotten. Can they create such community disharmony and murder? I love some of the discussions that Michael and Bartholomew share regarding the silence and blanks in their history being interpretted by future generations.....fiction w/ philosophy!