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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Scholarium by Claudia Gross

Scholarium by Claudia Gross, translated from the German by Helen Atkins. New Milford, Connecticut:The Toby Press, 2004. ISBN: 159264 056 7

A medieval murder mystery, set in the year 1431, involving students of the Scholarium, their teachers, the Masters of the Faculty, and various assorted other characters, including a faculty wife who joins the students at their lectures, disguised as a young man. The murder of her husband is the primary mystery under investigation.

The murderer leaves a scholarly riddle to confound the Faculty member assigned the task of unraveling the crime: “You separate everything that belongs together, yet you do not recognise what does not belong together.” Perhaps the riddle refers to the ongoing scholarly argument over which is superior, the will or the understanding.

Unfortunately, none of the characters in this tale were really capable of attracting my sympathy nor was I inclined to identify with any of them. Too many complications are drug into the plot: alchemy, heresy, black witchcraft and the like. Perhaps it was partly the result of this being a translation, but the prose never grabbed me and carried me along like that of my preferred mystery authors. Only marginally recommended for those who enjoy mysteries with scholarly medieval settings.

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