Falconer and the Ritual of Death

Falconer and the Ritual of Death by Ian Morson. This book is a testament to reappearances. It’s been a full decade since the last episode of Master William Falconer’s mystery-solving career, but Morson has been busy on other projects, including several Medieval Murderers compilations. Falconer is regent at Oxford University in the late 13th century when he is called upon by his friend, city constable Peter Bullock, to investigate a body discovered when masons begin tearing down some buildings for a construction project. The body’s reappearance after being hidden for twenty years means that Falconer must seek out those who might remember the events from two decades earlier. Morson uses a series of flashbacks from various characters, including the newly arrived regent himself, to describe that former period. At the time, Falconer defended the Jewish community, which was under suspicion for killing a young boy in a ritualistic manner, a charge that reappears freshly during this new investigation. Also reappearing is Saphira Le Veske, a widow who Falconer helped in a previous adventure.

Fans of Susanna Gregory’s physician and teacher, Matthew Bartholomew, who solves problems at rival Cambridge a century later, will see many similarities here. Falconer lacks Bartholomew’s medical skills and Morson’s books are about half the length of Gregory’s tomes, but the medieval academic settings are almost identical.


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