Death of a Scholar: The Twentieth Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew (THOMAS CHALONER)
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In the summer of 1358 the physician Matthew Bartholomew returns to Cambridge to learn that his beloved sister is in mourning after the unexpected death of her husband, Oswald Stanmore. Aware that his son has no interest in the cloth trade that made his fortune and reputation, Oswald has left the business to his widow, but a spate of burglaries in the town distracts Matthew from supporting Edith in her grief and attempting to keep the peace between her and her wayward son.
As well as the theft of irreplaceable items from Michaelhouse, which threatens its very survival, a new foundation, Winwick Hall, is causing consternation amongst Matthew's colleagues. The founder is an impatient man determined that his name will grace the University's most prestigious college. He has used his wealth to rush the construction of the hall, and his appointed Fellows have infiltrated the charitable Guild founded by Stanmore, in order to gain the support of Cambridge's most influential citizens on Winwick's behalf.
A perfect storm between the older establishments and the brash newcomers is brewing when the murder of a leading member of the Guild is soon followed by the death of one of Winwick's senior Fellows. Assisting Brother Michael in investigating these fatalities leads Matthew into a web of suspicion, where conspiracy theories are rife but facts are scarce and where the pressure from the problems of his college and his family sets him on a path that could endanger his own future...
night, as I could see the end was near and I wanted to be on hand to help, but he would not let me.’ ‘Did he eat or drink anything in all that time?’ ‘Nothing. He had no appetite.’ Relief surged through Bartholomew, and he gripped Meryfeld’s hand. ‘Thank you! Edith will be hurt that he did not confide in her, but it is better than thinking someone poisoned him.’ ‘He might have lived longer had he not worked so hard when he should have been resting,’ said Meryfeld. ‘There were things he did
war with France, famine, plague, years of unpredictable weather – all had taken their toll on trade, and only the strongest had survived. Stanmore had done what was necessary to protect his family from the wretchedness of poverty. He closed his eyes, aware that he was deluding himself, which was hardly wise at such a time. The truth was that he loved the darker side of commerce – outwitting competitors, avoiding the King’s taxes, driving a ruthless bargain. His willingness to bend the rules had
ago,’ objected Bartholomew. ‘Give him time.’ ‘Yet I cannot say I was surprised when Felbrigge was shot,’ Ratclyf went on. ‘He antagonised not only half the University with his hubris, but most of the town, too.’ ‘You exaggerate,’ said Bartholomew curtly. He had not particularly liked Felbrigge, but he detested gossip, especially from someone like Ratclyf, who was hardly a paragon of virtue himself. ‘I do not! And had he lived, there would have been trouble. He had a heavy hand with students,
useful.’ He beamed affably, although Bartholomew was disconcerted to learn that the men who ran his country might need to call upon someone who possessed the same kind of sly skills that had kept Potmoor from the noose. ‘I am not the only member of Winwick with links to Potmoor,’ said Illesy tightly. ‘Lawrence is his physician, a post he took when the last medicus was dismissed for failing to save him. I understand the honour was offered to you, Bartholomew, but you declined it.’ Bartholomew
needs so much money when its endowment comprises the tithes from several churches and manors. It is wealthy in its own right.’ ‘There are details to resolve before the legacy comes into force, apparently. But you should be worrying about more important matters, such as who murdered those poor men. How are your investigations proceeding?’ ‘Slowly,’ replied Bartholomew gloomily. When Julitta hurried away to liberate Edith from de Stannell, Bartholomew went to talk to his fellow medici, who had