Gregory, Susanna – A BONE OF CONTENTION

A BONE OF CONTENTION (Historical-Cambridge, England-1352) – G+
Gregory, Susanna – 3rd in series
LIttle, Brown & Company, 1997– UK Hardcover – ISBN 0316882301

Physician and teacher Matthew Bartholomew is summoned by Brother Michael to the King’s Ditch by the Hall of Valence Marie to identify bones found among the rubbish and sewage of the ditch. The Master of Valence is hoping the bones will be from the martyr Simon d’Ambrey in order to make the Hall famous and shower the Hall with gifts and money. The next day, Matthew is called back as the body of a student has been found and, shortly after, the lover of the dead student and daughter of a Principal of one of the student hostels disappears. When riots break out in the town, people die and buldings are burnt, Matthew and Michael sense there was a purpose to it and seek to tie together all events finding out who is behind them.

Gregory does such a masterful job of describing life in 14th century England, I certainly wouldn’t want to live there. Gregory’s descriptions of the practice of medicine during this time are especially fascinating. But that and her wonderfully dimensional characters, particularly the balance between Matthew and Michael are what make her books delightful to read. The fact that physician Matthew is completely clueless about women and receives advise from Brother Michael adds levity to the darkness of the story. I did feel the plot became overly complicated in this book, but enjoyed the twists at the end.

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