Saturday, October 24, 2015

Murder by the Book

I suspect that there are only a few more installments in Susanna Gregory's Matthew Bartholomew series.  Murder by the Book is the eighteenth book in the series, and nearly two years after the publication of the twentieth volume, Gregory hasn't published a follow-up.  Additionally, for the first time since the middle of the series, Matt both mentions Matilde and realizes he's attracted to another woman for the first time since Matilde left Cambridge.

Matt's romantic life, though, isn't particularly important to Murder by the Book.  Once again, the colleges and hostels of Cambridge are at odds.  The University is, thanks to a benefactor, building a library.  Matt takes the logical view - with a central repository, all University members, even those who belong to poor institutions, will have access to a variety of books.  His view barely wins when the question comes to a vote, and during the meeting someone throws a book which hits a scholar on the head.  Coslaye, the stricken scholar, survives thanks to Matt's skill, but a few months later, he's attacked again and killed. Is his murder (and the others in Cambridge) related to the library?  Or are they connected to the smugglers plaguing Sheriff Tuylet?  And who is the French spy being hunted by one of the King's top agents (who also happens to be Brother Michael's mother)?  Gregory cleanly ties together the related plots, and includes several scenes showing Matt's and Michael's interpersonal chemistry.  If there are only two more books in the series, I'll miss spending time with the two of them.

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