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An Unholy Alliance (Matthew Bartholomew, #2)
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An Unholy Alliance (Matthew Bartholomew #2)

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  1,073 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
Two years after the Black Death has decimated the population of England, a new killer is stalking the streets of Cambridge: a serial murderer preying on the women of the small town. Matthew Bartholomew, a physician with ideas ahead of his time and his companion, the portly monk Brother Michael, must uncover the identity of the killer before he strikes again. Meanwhile, ban ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published December 1st 1998 by St. Martin's Press (first published 1996)
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Sophie Narey (Bookreview- aholic)
Dec 28, 2014 Sophie Narey (Bookreview- aholic) rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
Published: 31/12/1998
Author: Susanna Gregory
Recommended for: fans of historical fiction

In this book we get to go on the second adventure of the 'Matthew Bartholomew' series of stories. Matthew Bartholomew is a physican with amazing ideas that are far advance for his time (two years after the Black Death) who ends up trying to find out who the killer is before he strikes again, he is joined by his friend the portly monk Brother Michael. We go on the hunt with them to find out who the killer is, e
An Unholy Alliance, the second of Susanna Gregory's Matthew Bartholomew historical mysteries is once again delightfully and informatively replete with much historical detail (not only with regard to Medieval Cambridge, but the entire era of the Plague, the Black Death, and how in the immediate aftermath of the same, a belief in the occult has tended to flourish, so that unscrupulous town and university worthies are able to make use of residents' legitimate fears and their justified frustration t ...more
Mar 22, 2017 Lacer rated it really liked it
The second Matthew Bartholomew book, in this one, Cambridge is reeling from the aftermath of the plague, they're struggling to get enough food, surviving tradesmen hold monopolies and there is not enough clergy. Some of the population have also turned their backs on God and have taken up witchcraft.

When a dead monk is found in a university chest and prostitutes are being murdered, Bartholomew and his friend Michael are asked to investigate. Cue more really tangled plots.
Aug 24, 2007 LJ rated it really liked it
AN UNHOLY ALLIANCE (Medieval Mystery-England-1300s) – VG
Gregory, Susanna – 2nd in series
Time Warner Paperbacks, 1997 – Paperback
The plague has passed and physician Matthew Bartholomew wants only to train his students and attend to his patients. As senior physician, he is called to examine a body mysteriously discovered inside the treasured, and supposedly secure, University chest, which holds all the most valued, documents. Witchcraft is also on the rise and someone is brutally murdering prostit
Jul 11, 2012 Crysta rated it liked it
There's a good chance I didn't love this book because the edition I found at the library mistakenly lists it as the first book in the series and I didn't know any better until I started reading it.

But still. I like a good mystery and I really enjoy historical fiction. This, though, just didn't ring my bell. The mystery was too convoluted - so much so that the main characters spend quite a bit of time puzzling over all the different pieces with nothing more falling into place. The end of the book
Dec 04, 2016 Pauline rated it really liked it
Good pace – I am able to put the book down when it's time to do other things. I even fall asleep reading which is what I need – to be able to sleep – not necessarily from boredom. I like the friendship that has developed between a physician and a monk that enjoys eating. Good book. After reading the first book, I was happy to see the same characters again. I will definitely read the third book.
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Monica Willyard
Nov 11, 2013 Monica Willyard rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookshare
This is an excellent mystery with a lot of historical details deftly woven into the plot.
Oct 31, 2011 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2011
Another random find at the library. I was in the mood for something light and went to look at the Phillipa (Philippa?) Gregory books my branch had. Well, I've read them all, but Susanna Gregory was right next to her. I was a bit hesitant, because the description of Matthew Bartholomew of a doctor ahead of his time reminded me of Mistress of the Art of Death, which is a book I disliked for ever so many reasons, one of the them being that the main character had a thoroughly 21st century sensibilit ...more
Jul 18, 2012 Elizabeth rated it liked it
This book took me an unusually long time to read, and I'm not sure why. I liked the characters, and thought the dynamic between Bartholomew, a physician "with ideas ahead of his time" (that's corny, but accurate), and Michael, a fat Benedictine with a curious mind and a strong arm, was fun. The unraveling of the mystery was pretty complex, and maybe that was part of my slow wasn't difficult to remember who was who, but it was difficult to figure out the motivations of secondary char ...more
Jo-anne Atkinson
Jan 17, 2016 Jo-anne Atkinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Susanna Gregory certainly researches her books well. Following on from the first Matthew Bartholomew story, An Unholy Alliance picks up the story a few months later. The Black Death has left Cambridge and the town and surrounding areas are trying to recover. Gregory paints a picture of confusion and violence where people feel God has abandoned them and they question their faith, cults (or Guilds) spring up and some are covens for devil worship.

This forms the basis for a series of interwoven plo
Aug 07, 2014 Ann rated it liked it
Cambridge, England in 1350 was a scary place. The plague was over but people lived in fear and superstition. People did not know what had caused the disease and were terrified that the illness would come back. Matthew Bartholomew is a physician at the college and is called upon to investigate when a friar is found murdered in the church. Then the bloodbath begins. Someone is murdering prostitutes and then bodies turn up where they are not supposed to be and people are buried in graves but then a ...more
I enjoyed this book — just not as much as the previous one.

On the "pro" side... Matthew is an intelligent, competent, likeable character. The history is well-researched. The author is careful to point out which bits are accurate, which bits are fictional, and what assumptions there are. The story is gripping and enjoyable.

On the "con" side... The plot seems needlessly complex. I get that in life, it's rarely a case of A causes B causes C, but this seems a bit of a Heath Robinson contraption. Al
Wayne Farmer
A complex medieval murder mystery involving murdered friars, prostitutes, and Satanic worship. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It highlights the turmoil the country must have been in the aftermath of the Black Death and how people must have thought God had turned against them. I was pleased to see that the lack of a sidekick and a historical note, as referred to in my review of the first book, have been remedied and it made the whole much more enjoyable, although I am still confused about how the hoste ...more
Oct 26, 2013 Diana rated it really liked it

Matthew Bartholomew is a physician and a medical instructor at Cambridge during the 1350, as people try to overcome the aftermath of the Black Death. After the puzzling death of a travelling friar in the church, Matthew is asked to set aside his teaching to solve the mystery. The events kept Matthew and his friend, Michael, guessing as they try to discover the meaning of events as they occur. The intricate plot as well as the historical aspect, especially in the field of medicine kept me well en
Read again for Maze Mystery Discussion group 03/21/14.

I enjoyed the Cambridge University setting and the stories of the (non)acceptance of Matthew Bartholomew's more scientific medical practice, but the mystery itself in this book moved very slowly and was quite confusing. Even in the summing up at the end the characters are fairly sure that their analysis is correct, but there is not a lot of hard evidence to prove the case. Only when the culprits are tricked into confessions do we learn the tr
Francesca Morelli
L'ho trovato troppo lungo, per più di metà libro i due "investigatori" hanno brancolato nel buio più profondo tra i mille indizi e morti assassinati.
Secondo me è lo stile di scrittura dell'autore, perchè l'idea è molto buona, l'ambientazione medievale eccellente, i protagonisti simpatici ma i sospettati erano metà di mille e quindi difficile a seguire l'intera faccenda, alcune cose messi lì solo per fuorviare il lettore, ma secondo me ridondante visto che il lettore era di suo fuorviato con tutt
Jul 27, 2014 Steve rated it really liked it
Another good Matthew Bartholemew mystery, which is an immediate sequel to "A Plague on Both your Houses." This novel shows the aftereffects of the Black Plague, taking place in 1350. According to the historical notes at the end, several of the characters were real people. Note of Warning: Do NOT read this book before you read "A Plague." because the second book talks about deaths of characters in the first book. The mystery itself is full of red herrings and if you like that sort of thing (which ...more
Harper Sutherland
I loved the setting and found it very vivid. The author really knows her subject, and I will probably read another of her books because of this. However, I had trouble following the mystery. This may be because I read the book over 6-7 weeks, but it really wasn't until the end that I really understood the crimes, the sequence of events, and the motivations of the characters. Still better than a mystery where you see the ending coming 100 pages away, of course, but I think maybe I could have bene ...more
May 12, 2016 Gordon rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
Didn't finish, got stuck and sent it back to the library. The 14C Cambridge setting was most interesting but all the characters were unlikeable and I struggled to get into it. The main character's ahead-of-his-time medical views aren't quite a "modern voice in period piece" but fed a general sense of reader/narrator temporal superiority that grated a bit. Perhaps the first book builds rapport better.
Annie Jones
One of the Matthew Bartholomew chronicles, this is not one of the best. It is slow moving and I began to be irritated by the paragraphs of questions where Matthew was analysing his findings so far. It had a good and plausible ending, which is always a plus, and the historic background added authenticity. I may have been affected by having to read it in bits as time was available. Still a good read.
Nov 14, 2010 Lavecchiastrega rated it it was ok
Ho scelto questo libro attratta dallo sfondo storico medievale inglese, ma mi ha leggermente delusa perché ricalca modalità già note, sia nell'intreccio che nei personaggi (omicidi, sette, monaco investigatore).
Consigliato solo a chi non ha mai letto Agatha Christie o Ellis Peters, gli altri potrebbero capire il finale già a pag. 25 o annoiarsi.
Non mi pronuncio sullo stile della scrittrice perché le traduzioni dall'originale spesso non rendono giustizia agli autori
While nothing to cheer about from the rooftops, it is engaging and after the first 50 or 60 pages of scene setting, the book moves along quite well. I think the book could have been about 20 pages shorter without hurting it and the mystery was a tad convoluted but her real forte is in characterizations. I think, for me, this will be one of those "Sit down with and old friend and catch up" series.
Shannon Knight
Aug 31, 2012 Shannon Knight rated it really liked it
My good friend sent me a bunch of these Susanna Gregory books from England because she read them and loved them and knows how I love a good British murder mystery. So this one was my first foray into the series and it's great! All those things I love about, say, PD James, but taking place in Cambridge in the 14th century, after the plague. I love the main characters and the intrigue and the history. Highly recommend!
Amy Jordan
Apr 12, 2014 Amy Jordan rated it liked it
I didn't like this one as well at the first book in the series. For me, the plot was too convoluted to follow comfortably. I will continue with the series, however, because I so enjoy this genre and I like the historical detail the author provides. Perhaps the other books in the series have plots that aren't as difficult to follow.
Mar 03, 2015 Sharon rated it liked it
Matthew Bartholomew is a physician who is way ahead of his time (think actually washing one's hands before eating or treating open wounds) who is called, along with his friend, Brother Michael, to investigate the deaths of a number of deaths among priests and monks. Good story, complex plot, interesting exposition of medieval medicine and cluture.
Nov 21, 2010 Angel rated it really liked it
I picked this novel up from the library at random and really enjoyed it. Part murder mystery and part historical fiction this fast paced plot kept me interested from cover to cover. I am thrilled to find that it is part of a series and can not wait to find out what sort of trouble Matthew Bartholomew finds himself in next!
May 07, 2011 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really an interesting story with a lot going on: murders of prostitutes, a strange death of a monk attempting to steal documents, a body found in the bell tower, several disappearances, Satanism practiced in decommissioned churches. Part of what I found interesting was the historical detail of Cambridge shortly after the ravages of the plague.
Jan 04, 2015 Jennifer rated it really liked it
I had a little trouble getting into it at first, and then dove right in and loved it I read it on the beach in just 2 or 3 days; who would think Cambridge in 1350 CE would be so exciting? I love her attention to detail, and a bit of a plot twist at the end that I didn't see coming, too

If you like history, and a little brain-candy mystery, you will love Susanna Gregory's mysteries!
Sandra Strange
I really like this series which presents a realistic picture of Medieval Cambridge, both town and university--its setting, atmosphere, politics and crimes. The protagonist is sympathetic, though most of his "friends" and associates aren't. The mystery/puzzle is well worked out and fun to follow, and not any too easy to predict.
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Susanna Gregory is the pseudonym of Elizabeth Cruwys, a Cambridge academic who was previously a coroner's officer. She writes detective fiction, and is noted for her series of mediaeval mysteries featuring Matthew Bartholomew, a teacher of medicine and investigator of murders in 14th-century Cambridge.

AKA Simon Beaufort

She writes detective fiction, and is noted for her series of mediaeval mysterie
More about Susanna Gregory...

Other Books in the Series

Matthew Bartholomew (1 - 10 of 22 books)
  • A Plague on Both Your Houses (Matthew Bartholomew, #1)
  • A Bone of Contention (Matthew Bartholomew, #3)
  • A Deadly Brew (Matthew Bartholomew, #4)
  • A Wicked Deed (Matthew Bartholomew, #5)
  • A Masterly Murder (Matthew Bartholomew, #6)
  • An Order for Death (Matthew Bartholomew, #7)
  • A Summer of Discontent (Matthew Bartholomew, #8)
  • A Killer in Winter (Matthew Bartholomew, #9)
  • The Hand of Justice (Matthew Bartholomew, #10)
  • The Mark of a Murderer (Matthew Bartholomew, #11)

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