My rating: 3.5 stars. A good start to a series with room for improvement. I think I like Matthew, but there is not a lot of character development. TheMy rating: 3.5 stars. A good start to a series with room for improvement. I think I like Matthew, but there is not a lot of character development. The plot doesn't really go anywhere either - you won't learn anything before Matthew does. An awful lot of dead bodies in the first chapter, and that is before the plague hits! I'm not sure I was convinced by the final reveal, but it was a good twist. Where I thought the book shined was in the author's depiction of the plague, though there were times I felt like she tried a little too hard to include everything she learned in her research. Still, I would read more of this series.
Book description: A Plague on Both Your Houses introduces physician Matthew Bartholomew, whose unorthodox but effective treatment of his patients frequently draws accusations of heresy from his more traditional colleagues. Besides his practice, Bartholomew teaches medicine at Michaelhouse, part of the fledgling University of Cambridge. In 1348, the inhabitants of Cambridge live under the shadow of a terrible pestilence that has ravaged Europe and is traveling relentlessly towards England. Bartholomew, however, is distracted by the sudden and inexplicable death of the Master of Michaelhouse, a death University authorities do not want investigated. His pursuit of the truth leads him into a complex tangle of lies and intrigue that forces him to question the innocence of his closest friends, even his family. And then the Black Death finally arrives.
Series info: Chronicles of Matthew Bartholomew series
1. A plague on both your houses ------------------------------- 2. An unholy alliance 3. A bone of contention 4. A deadly brew 5. A wicked deed 6. A masterly murder 7. An order for death 8. A summer of discontent 9. A killer in winter 10. The hand of justice 11. The mark of a murderer 12. The tarnished chalice 13. To kill or cure 14. The devil's disciples 15. A vein of deceit 16. The killer of pilgrims 17. Mystery in the minster...more
Another solid entry in the Cormoran Strike series. I love Robin, Cormoran's resourceful secretary, who wants to learn about surveillance and become moAnother solid entry in the Cormoran Strike series. I love Robin, Cormoran's resourceful secretary, who wants to learn about surveillance and become more than a mere secretary. J.K. Rowling skewers the publishing industry with this bizarre and macabre story. It's so macabre it's almost funny. Her characters are fully realized and memorable. The plot once again kept me guessing. I definitely look forward to more in this series.
Book description: When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days -- as he has done before -- and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel is published, it will ruin lives -- so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him. And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before.
Series info: #2 in the Cormoran Strike series. See The Cuckoo's Calling....more
Setting: England, Kent, Somershill (fictional manor and rural village) Time: 1350, two years after the plague has ravaged the country killing half theSetting: England, Kent, Somershill (fictional manor and rural village) Time: 1350, two years after the plague has ravaged the country killing half the population.
Chapter One: "It was a hot summer's morning in June of this year when I first saw them - advancing towards Somershill like a band of ragged players. I would tell you they were a mob, except their numbers were so depleted that a gaggle would be a better description. And I would tell you I knew their purpose in coming here, but I had taken to hiding in the manor house and keeping my nose in a book. At their head was John of Cornwall, a humourless clenched-fist of a man, whose recent appointment to parish priest rested purely upon his still being alive."
Criticized for being too modern in tone, it was a style that worked for me. It gave a breezy, humorous counterbalance to the dark and macabre time period. Oswald is an anomaly in his time - an atheist and rational thinker with a tendency towards what today would be Zen Buddhism. As the author pointed out in a historical note "there is evidence of unbelief from those times - though it is difficult to gauge the true extent of this, as you were likely to have kept any scepticism to yourself. But even if doubts were rare, impiety certainly was not." It worked for me, and I think actually makes the Middle Ages perhaps a little more accessible to modern readers. The historical details were otherwise spot on, with all the filth, superstition, and brutality. The black humor and over-the-top characters made me think of a television sit-com. I think it would translate very well to film or television. The mystery was satisfying, even if Oswald seems a bit slow at times, with a nice twist at the end. I definitely look forward to more in the series.
Book description: Oswald de Lacy was never meant to be the Lord of Somershill Manor. Despatched to a monastery at the age of seven, sent back at seventeen when his father and two older brothers are killed by the Plague, Oswald has no experience of running an estate. He finds the years of pestilence and neglect have changed the old place dramatically, not to mention the attitude of the surviving peasants. Yet some things never change. Oswald's mother remains the powerful matriarch of the family, and his sister Clemence simmers in the background, dangerous and unmarried. Before he can do anything, Oswald is confronted by the shocking death of a young woman, Alison Starvecrow. The ambitious village priest claims that Alison was killed by a band of demonic dog-headed men. Oswald is certain this is nonsense, but proving it—by finding the real murderer—is quite a different matter. Every step he takes seems to lead Oswald deeper into a dark maze of political intrigue, family secrets and violent strife....more