Book review

Tom Fletcher and the Angel of Death by Sarah Matthias (2008)

Did they really keep lions and other exotic beasts in cages in English monasteries in the early thirteenth century? Pretty tricky job, feeding time, wouldn't you think? It was certainly tricky for young Obadiah Pug, who perished:

Delilah licked her yellow teeth. The boy had tasted most peculiar, but then she had not tasted human meat before.

All very gruesome and, as it happens, unintended. But next time Delilah tastes human flesh, it is murder. Someone pushes Brother Benedict, Bursar and Keeper of the Beast House, into her cage, and locks it! And I don't think anyone would have bothered to get to the bottom of events at Saint Wilfred's Abbey if it hadn't been for young Tom Fletcher, Chief Novice and Amateur Sleuth, ably assisted by lively Bessie Miller. They make a good team. Tom can deal with events at the Abbey and Bessie can intervene in events in town. And they can meet to confer in the Swallow's Nest, a secret place on the Abbey roof, between gargoyles.

Not surprising, I suppose, to discover simmering hatreds and rivalries between the brothers in the monastery and quite disturbing to witness the townspeople's treatment of the Jewish moneylender. If you fancy an all-action murder mystery with some historical truths, then this is the book for you, provided you can dare to look:

'It''s...horrible...' Tom managed to whimper, before bending and vomiting over his sandals.
'Oh, my God,' whispered Herbert, his eyes transfixed by the bloody bundle of mangled flesh that had once been Brother Benedict. The body lay still now. No human sound came from the cage - only the noise of tearing sinew as the lioness consumed her freshly killed supper; only the slick lapping of her rough tongue, as Delilah licked the bursar's sticky blood from her lips.


What can I read next?

This is Sarah Matthias' second book. Have a look at the other one:

  • The Riddle of the Poisoned Monk
  • Tom Fletcher and the Angel of Death

If you enjoy a good mystery to solve, you might like to look at the Lady Violet series by Karen Wallace:

And if you really enjoy a good story in a historical setting, I can recommend this one by VA Richardson:

Or you could have a look at something by Chris Priestley:

Also, the Bookchooser has found these books with a similar profile:

Tom Fletcher and the Angel of Death features in these lists: