The Tarnished Chalice − Susanna Gregory

The Tarnished Chalice − Susanna GregoryThe 503-page book entitled “The Tarnished Chalice “ by Susanna Gregory is the 12th in its series and is cast in 14th century England.

Gregory uses the setting of the Catholic Church, the University of Cambridge, and the once-powerful and urban city of Lincoln to provide the context for an intriguing and fascinating story.

The two protagonists are physician Matthew Bartholomew and Brother Michael, Senior Proctor of the University of Cambridge. Both men are very close friends, and although they set out on the same journey their path and quest could not have been anymore different.

Brother Michael is on his way to Lincoln to be installed as a Catholic canon while the physician Bartholomew seeks to find his lost love, Mathilde.

On arrival at Lincoln from Cambridge, both men were in for a rude awakening, as the contrast between both places would make even the strong at heart cringed.

Here they found skullduggery, murder, hate, jealousy, extreme poverty, power struggle, and an unkempt city. Now, as fate would have it, upon their arrival there were multiple deaths among the Catholic priesthood and the St. Hugh Chalice, a holy relic that was stolen twenty years ago has suddenly reappeared.

On account of Michael’s prior experience and reputation as a detective, he was called upon by the Bishop to conduct an investigation into the current happenings.

Gregory makes the link between the depravity in the wider community and the church. She painted the clergy at Lincoln as licentious, corrupt, and unscrupulous. Caught in the vortex of such obnoxious situation were the men from Cambridge. They were confronted with threats, hostilities, and attacks on their lives as the drama unfolds.

Added to this, is beautiful Christiana, a widow whom Brother Michael seems to have developed a weakness and affection for and Matthew’s continual search for the woman he loves thicken the plot.

The book though a long read keeps one in suspense. It covers a huge cast of characters with each one adding to the mystery, twist, and turn of a well-crafted tale.

Davy Desmond, Senior Staff Reporter