AD 1348, England.
Tales are told of poisonous clouds fast approaching, which overwhelm whole cities with scarcely a human being left. While some vow to enjoy their final days by drinking and gambling, others embark on a pilgrimage in hopes of assuaging God’s wrath. For if God was permitting his people to be punished by this plague, it surely was because they had committed terrible sins.
So when a group of pilgrims are forced to seek shelter at an inn, their host dares them to tell their stories of sin. Soon, it becomes a competition to see which pilgrim’s sin is the best – or the worst.
A weary soldier tells of the war of Calais, a city plagued by Lust. A bewitching Venetian woman counters with a tale of Greed, while Gluttony and treacherous wives fill timid old Falconer’s story. The empty soul of Sloth is detailed by Father Prior, the Innkeeper reveals a friendship poisoned by Anger, and the son of a coroner weaves a dark tale of murder by Envy. Finally, the mysterious and silent Randal introduces the father of all sins, Pride.
Which will win out as the ultimate sin? Or perhaps, such things are better left for God to decide …
Amazon.co.ukHardcoverKindle EditionWaterstonesAmazon.comUS Kindle Edition
The Prologue, in which the pilgrims arrive at the Angel Inn
The first sin: Michael Jecks tells a tale of Lust
The second sin: Ian Morson tells a tale of Greed
The third sin: Ian Morson tells a tale of Gluttony
The fourth sin: Susanna Gregory and Simon Beaufort tell a tale of Sloth
The fifth sin: Philip Gooden tells a tale of Anger
The sixth sin: Bernard Knight tells a tale of Envy
The seventh sin: Karen Maitland tells a tale of Pride
The Epilogue, in which the pilgrims depart from the Angel Inn
Beornwyn of Lythe, the young daughter of an ealdorman, spurns marriage and chooses to remain a virgin dedicated to Christ. When she is found murdered in the chapel where she kept her nightly vigils, the butterflies resting on her corpse are seen to be a sign from God that she should receive sainthood.
It is not long before St Beornwyn comes to be regarded as the patron saint of those suffering from disease, and many are drawn on pilgrimage to her shrines. But from a priory in Wales to the Greek island of Sifnos to the final resting place of Beornwyn’s bones in Herefordshire, far from bringing healing to sick pilgrims, it seems that St Beornwyn’s remains leave a trail of misery, maladies and murder in their wake.
So when a famous poet pens a new tale of St Beornwyn, it is no wonder that he questions whether she was as holy as has always been believed . . . and soon, rumours begin to spread from Nottinghamshire that threaten to ruin the reputation of the saint.
Could the saintly deeds attributed to her have been carried out by someone else? What if the virgin was not all she seemed? Will the truth about St Beornwyn ever be discovered, or will her story remain forever wrapped in legend?
Amazon.comUS HardcoverUS Kindle Edition
Prologue: In which Karen Maitland tells how a grisly discovery in St Oswald’s Church in Lythe, near Whitby, turns a Saxon princess into a venerated saint.
Act One: In which Susanna Gregory and Simon Beaufort tell how Beornwyn’s hand is stolen from Lythe by two unscrupulous thieves in the year 1200, and taken to drought-stricken Carmarthen. A violent thunderstorm follows . . . and so does murder.
Act Two: In which Nick Zuliani and his grand-daughter Katie travel to a Greek island on a mission for the Doge of Venice, and encounter murder and the cult of the virgin saint Beornwyn.
Act Three: In which Philip Gooden describes how John of Gaunt’s Thames-side place is shaken by a murder linked to a poem about St Beornwyn, composed by Geoffrey Chaucer, Gaunt’s protégé.
Act Four: In which Bernard Knight tells how St Beornwyn led to a murder enquiry in 1405 in an obscure priory near the Malverns, which was resolved by Owain Glyndwr.
Act Five: In which Karen Maitland relates how a Master of the Butcher’s Guild is determined to conceal the guild’s valuable reliquary of St Beornwyn, to prevent Thomas Cromwell’s most feared enforcer from destroying it. But when Cromwell’s enforcer arrives in Sherwood Forest, murder follows in his shadow and threatens to destroy more than the precious relic.
Epilogue: In which Philip Gooden tells of an encounter between a dealer in saints’ relics and a Russian oligarch.
1154, Oseney Priory, Oxford.
When the first performance of The Play of Adam ends in tragedy, the author is compelled to pen a grim warning for the generations that follow:
BEWARE THE SINS OF ENVY AND VAINGLORY, ELSE FOUL MURDER ENDS YOUR STORY.
But his words are not heeded, and as the play is performed in many guises throughout the ages, bad luck seems to follow after those involved in its production.
When a snow storm diverts two disparate parties of travellers to the busy market town of Carmarthen in the winter of 1199, an enigmatic stranger appears and requests to stage the play to alleviate tensions, but on the eve of the performance the actor chosen to play Cain is found dead.
When the play is performed in the city of Ely in 1361, the townspeople fear the play has unleashed a demon upon the town after a gruesome discovery is made in the Cathedral. And from Shakespeare’s London to war-time Surrey, no matter the time or the place, each production always seems to end in disaster.
Perhaps it is simply the curse of thespian rivalry that is to blame. Or does the story of man’s first murder somehow infect all who re-enact it?
Amazon.comHardcoverUS Kindle Edition
Prologue: In which Ian Morson explains how The Play of Adam first earns its evil reputation.
Act One: In which Susanna Gregory tells how a sudden snowstorm in December 1199 strands rival bands of clerics in Carmarthen. They stage the play as entertainment – and murder and mayhem soon follow.
Act Two: In which Karen Maitland relates how the play goes to Ely in 1361, but the murder of a player swiftly follows.
Act Three: In which Philip Gooden describes how an embittered rival to Shakespeare sets about wreaking havoc in 1606, but is soon found dead in his bookshop.
Act Four: In which Ian Morson relates how the play is used for political ends in 1820s Oxford.
Epilogue: In which Bernard Knight brings the play’s deadly history up to date with a modern twist.
Solsbury Hill in the dark ages.
Two lads fight for King Arthur in the final battle against the Saxon invaders.
Meanwhile, in 1199, the monks’ peaceful existence is turned upside down when the Abbey’s unpopular prior is found dead on Solsbury Hill. But when Sir Symon Cole and his wife, Gwenllian, arrive to investigate, they soon hear whisperings that prior has met with divine punishment.
For it is said that on Solsbury Hill, only those who are pure in heart can survive a night when the moon is full.
Determined to get to the bottom of the suspicious circumstances surrounding the prior’s death, Gwenllian launches a daring investigation that puts her in great danger and Sir Symon accepts a challenge to visit the hill at night.
Sacred treasures. Dangerous secrets. Plots against church, crown and government. Solsbury Hill continues to be the scene of murder, theft and conspiracy throughout the ages. But what will today’s archaeologists make of the mysteries uncovered on this haunted site?
Amazon.comUS HardcoverUS Kindle Edition
Hill of Bones is also available as an audio CD, read by Colin Mace. It can be ordered from Whole Story Audiobooks.
Prologue: In which Philip Gooden relates how two young brothers from Somerset travel to join King Arthur’s forces in a final battle against the Saxon invaders.
Act One: In which Susanna Gregory relates how Sir Symon Cole and his wife Gwenllian are ordered by King John to investigate the suspicious death of Bath Abbey’s unpopular prior.
Act Two: In which Bernard Knight records how treasures from Bath Abbey are stolen, and how a cat catcher and a royal steward help a luckless lay-brother avoid a hanging.
Act Three: In which Karen Maitland tells how the mysterious survivor of a shipwreck flees to Solsbury Hill to escape his nemesis, only to find himself unwittingly embroiled in a plot of treachery and treason.
Act Four: In which Philip Gooden recounts how Nick Revill arrives in Bath with the touring players, and swiftly finds himself persuaded to impersonate a dying man’s son – and comes into possession of a dangerous secret.
Act Five: In which Ian Morson describes how Joe Malinferno and Doll Pocket find themselves in Bath escaping Joe’s dalliance with the Cato Street Conspirators. Radical agitation follows them, and they are faced with solving a murder that casts a shadow over a very senior member of the royal family.
Epilogue: In which Bernard Knight reveals an unexpected ending when police and archaeologists investigate the top of Solsbury Hill.
In the desolate wastes of Greenland, a group of hunters discover a strangely shaped meteor that has fallen from the sky. At first, the mysterious ‘sky-stone’ seems to bring them good luck, healing a lame boy and guaranteeing a good catch of furs. But violence and murder soon follow in fortune’s wake, as the villagers fight and struggle amongst themselves to get control of the precious object.
Over the next six hundred years, the Sky-Stone falls into the hands of crusading knights, the wicked Sheriff of Devon, a group of radical young kabalists, the dying King Henry III and a band of travelling players. Each time, the stone brings treachery, discord and violent death to those who seek to possess it.
Amazon.comUS HardcoverUS Kindle Edition
The Sacred Stone is also available as an audio CD, read by Paul Matthews. It can be ordered from either Amazon.co.uk or Whole Story Audiobooks.
Prologue: In which Susanna Gregory tells of the discovery of the stone by a band of hunters.
Act One: In which Simon Beaufort describes how the stone causes a rift between Church and State.
Act Two: In which Bernard Knight relates how the stone is invoked to heal a manor lord’s sick wife.
Act Three: In which Karen Maitland records how the stone is acquired by a Jewish merchant.
Act Four: In which Ian Morson tells how the stone finds its way to King Henry’s bedchamber.
Act Five: In which Philip Gooden reveals how the stone plays a part in the kidnap of Nick Revill.
Epilogue: In which Ian Morson describes the surprise resurfacing of the stone in the present day.
Glastonbury Abbey 1191.
During excavation work, an ancient leaden cross is discovered buried several feet below ground. Inscribed on the cross are the words: hic iacet sepultus inclitus rex arturius … Here lies buried the renowned King Arthur. Beneath the cross are skeletal remains. Could these really be the remains of the legendary King Arthur and his queen, Guinevere?
As the monks debate the implications of this extraordinary discovery, the bones disappear — spirited away by the mysterious Guardians, determined to keep the king’s remains safe until the ancient legend is fulfilled and Arthur returns to protect his country in the hour of its greatest need.
A missing right hand. A gang of ruthless body-snatchers. Brother accused of killing brother. As the secret of the bones’ hiding place is passed from generation to generation, those entrusted to safeguard Arthur’s remains must withstand treachery, theft, blackmail and murder in order to keep the legend intact.
Amazon.comUS HardcoverUS Kindle Edition
King Arthur’s Bones is also available as an audio CD, read by Paul Matthews. It can be ordered from either Amazon.co.uk or Whole Story Audiobooks.
Prologue: In which Philip Gooden describes how at Glastonbury Abbey in 1191, the remains of King Arthur are believed to have been discovered.
Act One: In which Susanna Gregory describes how the bones are stolen during a violent skirmish between the Welsh and invading Normans in Carmarthen.
Act Two: In which Bernard Knight relates how in 1282, a band of patriots retrieve the relics after the darkest day in Wales’ history.
Act Three: In which Michael Jecks describes how a chance encounter with a pardoner and quack healer causes problems for Sir Baldwin, Bailiff Puttock and the Church.
Act Four: In which Philip Gooden’s Nick Revill becomes involved with Arthur’s bones, William Shakespeare’s younger brother and a murder at the Tower of London.
Act Five: In which Ian Morson recalls how rumours of Napoleon Bonaparte’s escape revive the old myth of King Arthur’s return.
Epilogue: In which Bernard Knight returns to an archaeological dig near Tower Bridge, where the experts find something unexpected in the foundations of Bermondsey Priory.
A mysterious book of prophecies written by a sixth century Irish monk has puzzled scholars through the ages. Foretelling wars, plagues and rebellions, the Black Book of Bran is said to have predicted the Black Death and the Gunpowder Plot. But is it the result of divine inspiration or the ravings of a madman?
A hidden hoard of Saxon gold. A poisoned priest. A monk skinned alive in Westminster Abbey. Only one thing is certain: whoever comes into possession of the cursed book meets a gruesome and untimely end.
Amazon.comUS HardcoverUS Kindle Edition
The Lost Prophecies is also available as an audio CD, read by Paul Matthews. It can be ordered from either Amazon.co.uk or Whole Story Audiobooks.
Prologue: In which Bernard Knight lays the foundations for the murderous tales that follow.
Act One: In which Bernard Knight’s Crowner John confounds a band of treasure hunters.
Act Two: In which Ian Morson’s Nick Zuliani dices with death in a Russian blizzard.
Act Three: In which Michael Jecks’ Keeper Baldwin and Bailiff Puttock investigate murder most foul in an abbey crypt.
Act Four: In which Susanna Gregory’s Matthew Bartholomew and Brother Michael become embroiled in a bloodthirsty College feud.
Act Five: In which Philip Gooden’s player Nick Revill receives a letter from a mysterious uncle.
Epilogue: In which C.J. Sansom confronts the Day of Judgement.
Bermondsey Priory 1114.
A young chaplain succumbs to the temptations of the flesh – and suffers a gruesome fate.
From that moment, the monastery is cursed and over the next five hundred years, murder and treachery abound within its hallowed walls. A beautiful young bride found dead two days before her wedding. A ghostly figure that warns of impending doom. A daring plot to depose King Edward II. Mad monks and errant priests … even the poet Chaucer finds himself drawn into the dark deeds and violent death that pervade this unhappy place.
Amazon.comUS Kindle Edition
House of Shadows is also available as an audio CD, read by Paul Matthews. It can be ordered from either Amazon.co.uk or Whole Story Audiobooks.
Prologue: In which Bernard Knight lays the foundation for the ghoulish tales that follow.
Act One: In which Bernard Knight tells how Crowner John arrives at the priory of Bermondsey to investigate murder most foul.
Act Two: In which Ian Morson’s William Falconer uncovers dark deeds during an eclipse of the Moon.
Act Three: In which Michael Jecks’ Keeper Sir Baldwin and Bailiff Puttock foil a treasonous plot.
Act Four: In which Philip Gooden relates how poet Chaucer becomes embroiled in the priory’s dark history.
Act Five: In which Susanna Gregory’s Thomas Chaloner, spy for the Lord Chancellor of England, avenges a violent death.
Epilogue: In which Bernard Knight exposes the final secret.
Lovingly crafted by a Saxon swordsmith shortly before the Norman invasion, treachery and deceit are the Sword of Shame’s constant companions. From the Norman conquest in 1066 to the murder of Thomas Becket, from an attempted coup against Richard the Lionheart to the bloodstained Battle of Poitiers: at the heart of every treasonous plot, murder and betrayal lies the malign influence of the cursed sword.
As it passes from owner to owner in this intriguing series of interlocked mysteries, fortune and disgrace befall all who wield this glittering but deadly blade.
Amazon.comUS Kindle Edition
Sword of Shame is also available as an audio CD, read by Paul Matthews. It can be ordered from either Amazon.co.uk or Whole Story Audiobooks.
Prologue: In which Michael Jecks tells of the creation of the sword and its first shameful use.
Act One: In which Bernard Knight’s Crowner John buys his officer a new sword, but soon regrets his generosity.
Act Two: In which Ian Morson relates Nick Zuliani’s deadly involvement in election fraud and murder in Venice in 1262.
Act Three: In which Michael Jecks’ Keeper Sir Baldwin and Bailiff Puttock learn how the sword could have been used in martyrdom.
Act Four: In which Susanna Gregory’s Matthew Bartholomew and Brother Michael are sent to the remote Cambridgeshire village of Ickleton to investigate why the manor is behind with its rent. They discover passions and tempers running high.
Act Five: In which Philip Gooden’s Nick Revill arrives at a snow-bound house to discover that even after several hundred years, the Sword of Shame can still wreak havoc and murder.
Epilogue: In which Ian Morson brings the tale up to modern times.
Jerusalem has fallen to the Crusader armies, the Holy City lies ransacked. Amid the chaos, an English knight is entrusted with a valuable religious relic: a fragment of the True Cross, allegedly stained with the blood of Christ. The relic is said to be cursed: anyone who touches it will meet an untimely and gruesome end as soon as it leaves his possession.
Thus begins a series of intriguing interlocking mysteries by Britain’s best-known medieval crime writers. A decapitated monk. A savage impaling. A mysterious talking raven. At the heart of it all lies the lethal influence of the evil relic…
Amazon.comKindle Edition US
The Tainted Relic is also available as an audio CD, read by Stephen Thorne. It can be ordered from either Amazon.co.uk or Whole Story Audiobooks.
Prologue: In which Simon Beaufort begins the tale with Sir Geoffrey Mappestone in July 1100, and describes how the relic leaves the Holy Land and arrives in England.
Act One: In which Bernard Knight tells how, several decades later, the Cross turns up in the possession of a dealer, robbed and murdered en route to Glastonbury. Investigating the death, Crowner John, learns of its dark history.
Act Two: In which, in Oxford in 1269, the discovery of a decapitated monk leads Ian Morson’s academic sleuth William Falconer to uncover a link to the relic.
Act Three: In which Michael Jecks’ Sir Baldwin, in Exeter in 1323, has reason to suspect the relic’s involvement in at least five violent deaths.
Act Four: In which Susanna Gregory continues the story thirty years later, when several suspicious deaths occur in Cambridge, leading Matthew Bartholomew to investigate. Once again, the tainted relic has a crucial part to play.
Act Five: In which Philip Gooden tells of the relic being dispatched to London, where Nick Revill will determine its ultimate fate.
Epilogue: In which Bernard Knight brings the relic to twenty-first century Greenwich.