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The year is 1450. Matthias Barton's school is well established, his stepson Luke is at the great schools of learning in Oxford, but there is serious unrest in the country and the Sherborne area is affected by this.
Finn, a one-time pupil of Matthias has disappeared, anxious to find the Kentish rebels and join with them in their fight against the injustices as he sees them.
Meanwhile in Sherborne, the civil disobedience against the Abbot and the Bishop of Salisbury continues. Matthias is involved in the smaller disobediences while Finn is heavily involved in the larger and far more serious affairs around the rebel and so-called captain of Kent, Jack Cade. Will Luke become involved with Finn's daring escapades, or will he remain safely in Oxford? Can Matthias see the coming wars between the two houses, Lancaster and York? How much will this trouble the peaceful airs of Dorset?
With men from Sherborne becoming involved in these matters, will the Bishop of Salisbury survive the recent murders of The Duke of Suffolk and the Bishop of Chichester? This is a time of turbulence for all.
Spare the Rod
The fourth in the series sees Matthias as a married man but all is not plain sailing as his young step-son makes waves in the household.
With the school remaining successful, Matthias is forced to make some hard decisions when young Luke runs away and then disappears.
Following ancient drovers' tracks through Hampshire and Sussex, Matthias is far from home and eventually on the track of a killer.
A Quenchless Fire
When an injured man appears at the home of Sir Tobias, Coroner of Dorset, claiming to have devastating news of his son-in-law, he is compelled to investigate for the sake of his daughter and grandson.
Matthias Barton is drawn into the investigation and travels to Calais to seek answers. Here he and William, squire to Sir Tobias, discover a sinister organisation designed to weaken the English soldiers in their failing battle against the French.
Meanwhile in Sherborne, the unrest grows stronger and the fire in the Abbey reveals a most gruesome discovery. Matthias must gather his wits about him to help unravel this strange affair.
The Abbot's Dilemma
In the 1440s, Sherborne has become a place verging on civil disobedience echoing the unrest felt in other parts of the land under the young King Henry VI.
The Abbot of Sherborne has a serious problem which could undermine the very fabric of the Abbey, so reluctantly asks for help.
Who is the stranger seeking a child adopted by a local seamstress some years ago, and will Matthias be able to protect him from harm?
The penultimate book of the series leads into the coming Wars of the Roses. Which side will they opt for in the gathering storm?
A Tale of Two Abbeys
The building of the Alms house in Sherborne has taken the good people of Sherborne into much thought and energetic fund raising, despite still owing the Abbot money for rebuilding after the fire.
Against this backdrop, Shaftesbury Abbey becomes embroiled in a gruesome happening which involves A Sherborne family close to the young schoolmaster, Matthias Barton.With eighteen miles of hard riding between the two towns, how can this be resolved?
Missal for Murder
Sherborne in 1436 was a quarrelsome town, the townspeople and the Abbot at loggerheads over the narrowing of the entrance to Allhallows, the chapel-of-ease attached to the Abbey, and the positioning of a font in the same chapel.
Against this background, a young man is found murdered in the Lady Chapel of the Abbey, and subsequent strange deaths occur. Matthias Barton feels compelled to investigate and being unused to murder, stumbles along until suddenly things become clearer to him.Will he, together with the local coroner Sir Tobias, unravel the mystery before things become too heated?
About the cover designs
The covers are designed by Neil Pockett, an illustrator based in Sidmouth. As well as designing for the Matthias Barton series, Neil has also produced his own charming book of local watercolours called Scenes from Sidmouth, available from Paragon Books.
The cover for the fourth Matthias Barton book in the series draws on the author's memories of blackberrying among the cliffs of Sussex.