An Unholy Alliance by Susanna Gregory

This is the second book in the Bartholomew Chronicles and was just what I needed to read at the time I read it. Familiar characters in a familiar setting. Comfort reading.

The story is set just after the plague so there are not really enough people around to grow enough food and then not enough food for all the millers etc to work so life is tough. But of course where there is hardship there is always opportunity and in this case it is saffron that is causing a conundrum.

The story as ever is complex: prostitutes are killed, a friar dies and is locked in a chest, bodies in coffins are switched and there are covens or guilds that no longer believe in the bible. I can imagine that this must have been a feature of those times where you have always believed that a good life would spare you from the plague only to find out that isn’t true. And so, people turn to other supports and in this case it is a guild that meets in a disused church. (It’s disused because there aren’t enough people left to fill all the churches or enough priests/ministers etc.) Through trickery and violence this guild scared people to keep them under control. (Can’t imagine that happening nowadays, can you?)

There is also kidnapping and blackmail so the story lacks nothing in terms of events although Bartholomew’s girlfriend is not in existence, gone to London, and nor is the student he took on in the first book. The stories truly do twist and turn.

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