• A Poisonous Plot

  • The Twenty First Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew
  • By: Susanna Gregory
  • Narrated by: David Thorpe
  • Length: 13 hrs and 59 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (87 ratings)

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A Poisonous Plot

By: Susanna Gregory
Narrated by: David Thorpe
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Publisher's Summary

In 1358, over a century after its foundation in Cambridge, the college of Michael House is facing a serious shortfall of funds and competition from upstarts rivals such as Zachary Hostel. Their problems are made no easier by the hostility of the town's inhabitants, who favour the university moving away to the Fens.

This simmering tension threatens to break into violence when a well-known tradesman is found dead in one of the colleges. Matthew Bartholomew knows he was poisoned but cannot identify the actual substance, never mind the killer. He also worries that other illnesses and deaths may have been caused by the effluent from his sister's dye works.

Torn between loyalties to his kin and to his college, he fears the truth may destroy both his personal and professional lives, but he knows he must use his skills as a physician to discover the truth before many more lose their lives entirely.

©2015 Susanna Gregory (P)2015 Isis Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Susanna Gregory writes with fluency and energy, avoids archaic vocabulary, despite her 14th-century setting and, having had a career as an academic, bases the stories in this enjoyable series on careful research." ( Literary Review)

What listeners say about A Poisonous Plot

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Never Stopped Laughing - My Favorite Series

This is another great book in the Matthew Bartholomew series about a Doctor in 17th Century Cambridge. Matthew, along with the Senior Proctor, Brother Michael must find oust what is causing the "debilitas" killing and sickening so many residents of Cambridge. In addition he must prevent his sister, Edith, from being attacked by townspeople over her factory for making dyes which are causing a ghastly smell, and also why town and gown are at each other's throat and on the verge of massive riot.

The duo of Mat and Brother Michael find themselves in one scrape after another. In addition the University, Michaelhouse, where they teach is on the verge of bankruptcy and needs to be rescued by finding a rich benefactor. Who is the sinister person causing all the trouble in the town by spreading lies and rumors? This is the main mystery to be solved, but there are many side mysteries along the way.

There are so many hilarious characters in the book that each chapter is a real treat. I have been reading the series since Book I and although this is 21 in the series, you can still enjoy it without having read the previous books. I am sorry that more of the series is not on audio, as I enjoy the series so much. I hate it when I read the end and find I enjoy listening to the book over again.

David Thorpe does an excellent job in reading. He gives all the characters unique voice which really bring out the personality of each character.

3 people found this helpful

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Characterizations back to this best!

David Thorpe’s characterizations are back to his earlier work. Don’t know what went wrong with previous chronicle, but it’s all good again now!

1 person found this helpful

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Glad the right voices are back!

Love the voices being back to their “normal” as I simply adore David Thorpe’s take on them, especially Brother Michael and Master Langelee and Clippersby as well as the townsfolk. He just brings Susanna Gregory’s characters to life and Brother Michael is my favourite character thanks to him (and her, of course!). I wish he could do all the books in the series.

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I love Susanna Gregory 's characters the are so vivid and funny

The narrator does not give Michael's voice the strength it needs which is disappointing. For that reason I was unhappy with the performance.

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  • Nicola
  • 04-04-18

Great story

Back on form. Voices back to the previous books so no confusion about which character is speaking, and I loved the use of Dickon, the sheriffs son!

5 people found this helpful

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  • shirley
  • 10-05-15

excellent story.

Well written and read story. I have always loved the characters and they were really brought to life by the narrator

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anthony M. Padgett
  • 09-24-17

A surfeit of voices?

Would you consider the audio edition of A Poisonous Plot to be better than the print version?

yes

What aspect of David Thorpe’s performance might you have changed?

His vocal characterisations

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Laugh. If Ms. Gregory's history is correct, I wonder how the Middle Ages ever became the 'latter ages'.

Any additional comments?

Although I've listened to the whole series of Mathew Bartholomew I have in general, preferred the vocal characterisations of David Thorpe.However, after Andrew Wincott took over for two of the books, ( I was not over enamoured of his work), David seemed to lose his characterisations. Simrick in particular seemed to forget that he was Welsh and Agnes lost her rough edge. Even Michael was hard to recognise at times.In addition the Geography of Cambridge went awry at times. "The Angel" seemed to move itself from South of the "Brazen George" to East of the "Cardinal's Cap".. It can be quite disconcerting.However, I still enjoy the series. Thank you Ms. Gregory.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sarah Fellows
  • 05-21-17

Good story, awful narrator

I'm a big fan of Susanna Gregory. I've read (and listened to) all of her Thomas Chaloner books and read most of her Matthew Bartholomew series. I've read this book in print so I know the story's good, but I struggled to finish the audio book.

The narrator is terrible. He sounds like he's shouting at you despite speaking at normal volume. He reads like he's never read out loud before. It's strangely disjointed and almost impossible to get lost in the story.

It's such a shame, I would have loved to listen to all of the Matthew Bartholomew books, but I can't get passed the narrator.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 08-30-22

To Dye For?

This Matthew Bartholomew adventure is mystery enough - though (for me) unremarkable for that. The source of many deaths will not outwit many listeners/readers, but there is more in-play than that. Readers may feel they need to exercise a suspension of disbelief in the exodus with its unrest, and in the business venture of a recurring character. Tulyet’s son is very much a surprise too. It provides hope for future novels. This adventure is a step along the way to the final outing of the Cambridge ‘crew’, yet without adding much in development along that way. In terms of audiobook performance, Cynic get his Welsh accent back (Hooray), but Michael’s voice characterisation is again less than it was in earlier novels – and without the degree of friendly sparring which attracted so many to this series. After this novel there are just four to go, and I hope that they will each lead to a brilliant climax to this series which will have amounted to over a 100,000 words.

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  • Electrogirl
  • 07-29-22

Enjoyable as ever

All the classic hallmarks of a Bartholomew book… puzzling poisonings, Cambridge on the brink of yet another riot between scholars and townsfolk and our hero and Michael trying to save the day by identifying the killers, protect his sister and avert seemingly certain doom… what’s not to love?

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-17-22

Great fun

This has proved to be one of my favourites in the series. The mix of historicity, absurdity, mystery and drama is a brought forth as wonderfully as Matthew Bartholomew's 'royal broth' by the narrator. His brilliant mix of voices, which he juggled seemlessly, really draws the listener into the drama, and I laughed out loud on more than one occasion. The narrator acts the story not just read it. Brilliantly done.


Many of the characters have become like friends you know well, a gang of eccentrics and misfits the Michael House gang maybe but their presence is vital to the mix and I always prefer the stories set in Cambridge itself. the appendix is always interesting as well as the author uses names who actually lived in Cambridge in the 14th century to base characters on.

love these stories.



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  • Mrs Marion D Westlake
  • 02-28-20

Great narration

A very good narrator and a joy to listen to. Good tale too a long tale I’d say but a good one.

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  • CRL
  • 08-07-19

Narration

David Thorpe is a narrator par excellence! Every book he reads he sounds as though he is thoroughly enjoying the read himself and that has a knock on effect for the listener. However that is not to diminish the fine quality of this series of books. Gregory is a story teller of quality and I love the historical facts and notes in the text.

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  • Spiky Potplant
  • 03-17-18

Far fetched but fairly enjoyable medieval murder

A lot of people die in this book and the story is pretty far fetched but I enjoyed it more than some of the more recent books. I thought the plot didn't have as many twists and turns as some of the stories so it's a bit easier to follow. Sadly, Cynric only has a very small part to play in this book.

David Thorpe is a little less shouty in his narration but he's also changed the voices of the characters in the latest books. I preferred the earlier voices, Clippersby seems quite normal with the new voice and I miss Michael's slightly camp characterization.

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  • K.
  • 06-07-18

Disappointing

I have loved David Thorpe’s performances of previous Matthew Bartholomew books, but I was quite disappointed with this one. Why change the voice of both Clippersby and Brother Michael? They were wonderful the way they were, and really captured the essence of their characters. The story itself seemed overly convoluted, especially when it seemed obvious very early in the story as to what/how the people were becoming ill. Definitely not the best in the series.