An Unholy Alliance by Susanna Gregory

St. Martin’s (first), 1996

In 1350, right after the plague of the Black Death, the last thing Cambridge University needs is a series of murders. Doctor Matthew Bartholomew has his hands full: with Brother Michael, he must investigate the killing of an itinerant monk who has broken into the chest in which all the university’s valuable papers are kept; someone is murdering prostitutes in the town, and the university’s vice-chancellor has gone missing. Gregory paints a vivid portrait of Cambridge recovering from the plague, not just in terms of the reduced population, but also in how the Black Death had shattered — and reshaped — the philosophical and religious beliefs of the day: scores of people question why they should continue to believe in a god that visited mass destruction on them. More than merely whispers of satanic cults run rampant in the city; images of goats’ heads appear everywhere from a mask left in a coffin to the severed animal head left in Brother Michael’s bed. The plot is overly complicated, but Gregory ties it all up after a climax as suspenseful as any reader could wish. (Helen M Francini)

Originally published in Issue # 145 – September/December 1996

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