Michaelhouse is in uproar: Kenyngham the saintly but ageing Master has announced his retirement and with unseemly haste Runham arranges his own 'election' as his successor. Within days he has dismissed several members of staff, including the redubtable laundress Agatha, and is making life so unpleasant for the scholars that even Matthew Bartholomew believes his future as physician and teacher at the college is untenable. But Matthew has many patients to divert his attention and Brother Michael, Proctor of the fledgling university, has some suspicious deaths to investigate, although they cannot help but notice that the new Master has commissioned a flurry of building work. Then Runham himself is murdered and, although mourned by none, Matthew and Michael know they have to solve the mystery before any more damage is done to their beloved Michaelhouse.
Susanna Gregory is the psyeudonym of a Cambridge academic who was previously a coroner's officer. Her Matthew Bartholomew series have gained a formidable following.