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Monday 23 February 2015

‘The False Virgin’ by ‘The Medieval Murderers’

‘The False Virgin’ by ‘The Medieval Murderers’: Ian Morson, Bernard Knight, Philip Gooden, Karen Maitland, Susanna Gregory and Simon Beaufort.
Published by Simon & Schuster,
16 June 2014.
ISBN: 978-1471114335

Beornwyn, daughter of a local chieftain, is seemingly murdered in a Viking raid. Soon stories are told of her sainthood, and her bones are honoured as those of a virgin martyr – but they bring harm on all who possess them through the centuries ...

This clever collaboration brings together six historical crime novelists. The Prologue tells the original story of Beornwyn; it’s followed by five short stories, each set in a different period, but linked by the continuing travels of Beornwyn’s relics. The Epilogue rounds off with a modern story. Each author is therefore free to create their own characters – Ian Morsen uses his series detective, Nick Zuliani, with his feisty daughter as side-kick, and Philip Gooden lets Chaucer investigate a murder. The authors can also work in their own period, and one of the delights of this book was the way each time and place came alive to the reader: the Anglo-Saxon world, beset by Viking raids, the Welsh marches in 1200, a Venetian-ruled Greek island, John of Gaunt’s London home in the time of Chaucer, and the start of Henry VIII’s destruction of the churches. The stories themselves were each a good read with a neatly clued who-dunnit.

An enjoyable set of historical mysteries neatly woven around a central theme.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

The Medieval Murderers,  are, see above left to right, Bernard Knight, Philip Gooden, Michael Jecks, Susanna Gregory, Karen Maitland and Ian Morson,.

Bernard Knight  was born 3 May 1931. He is a British forensic pathologist and writer. He became a Home Office pathplogist in 1965  and was appointed Professor of  Forensic Pathology, University of Wales College of Medicine, in 1980.

Philip Gooden writes both fiction and non-fiction. His historical novels include the Nick Revill series, set in Elizabethan London, and a Victorian sequence, the most recent title for which is The Durham Deception. Philip Gooden also writes books on language, including Who’s Whose? and Faux Pas?, which won the English Speaking Union award for the best English Language book of 2006. He was chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association in 2007-8.

Michael Jecks is the author of thirty-two novels in his Templar series, all published by Headline and Simon & Schuster. A past chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association, he is also a founder of the Historical Writers’ Association and Medieval Murderers. He is a regular speaker at libraries and festivals worldwide. He is currently working on the final novel in his Hundred Years War trilogy.

Simon Beaufort is the pseudonym of Susanna Gregory and Beau Riffenburgh when they write jointly. Together they have written eight Geoffrey Mappestone novels and contributed to several Medieval Murderer books.  Recently, they have ventured into more modern times The Nimrod Murders is set in early 20th century London, and The Murder House takes place in 21st century Bristol.

Susanna Gregory was raised in Bristol, she early on became familiar with its great medieval history. After graduating from university, she spent three years in Leeds, as an officer in the West Yorkshire Police, where she was exposed to numerous unpleasant practices and grisly details, which have contributed to her characters and plots. Upon leaving the police, she conducted post-graduate studies at the University of Durham before earning a PhD at the University of Cambridge. Her primary post-doctoral research has investigated environmental contamination in the world’s seal population by looking at the build-up of pollutants – particularly heavy metals – in the teeth and bones of different seal species. She has also done fieldwork with whales and walruses, and has spent seventeen field seasons working with marine mammals in the Arctic or Antarctic, as well as many years lecturing on Antarctic tourist ships. At the undergraduate and graduate level, she has taught and supervised research in comparative anatomy and biological anthropology. She has also served as an environmental consultant, including working on the Greenpeace Climate Change Database.
She now lives in a hamlet in southwest Wales with her husband Beau Riffenburgh, who is also a writer, see Simon Beaufort.

Karen Maitland  was born 1st January  1956. She is a British author of medieval thriller fiction. Maitland has an honours degree in Human Communication and doctorate in Psycholinguistics.Karen has now recently moved to the lovely county of Devon, having lived for a number of years in the beautiful medieval city of Lincoln, which together with the wild salt-marshes of Norfolk, provide great inspiration for her novels.

Ian Morson was born in 1947 in Derby. He is the author of the Oxford based Falconer series.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

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