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Summary

Oxford, Spring 1353. When young bookseller Nicholas Elyot discovers the body of student William Farringdon floating in the river Cherwell, it looks like a drowning. Soon, however, Nicholas finds evidence of murder. Who could have wanted to kill this promising student? As Nicholas and his scholar friend Jordain try to unravel what lies behind William's death, they learn that he was innocently caught up in a criminal plot. When their investigations begin to involve town, university, and abbey, Nicholas takes a risky gamble - and puts his family in terrible danger.

©2016 Ann Swinfen (P)2017 Ann Swinfen

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A vivid depiction of the past, with a mystery thrown in

Much fascinating details about life shortly after the Black Death, most of it accurate based on my reading, with an occasional mildly jarring anachronism. The bookseller is likeable & mostly sensible, except when he needs to be stupid to create the necessary plot crisis.

I look forward to seeing how this series develops.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A lovely tale set in a wonderful place

Oxford is one of my favourite places on the planet. History is a passion. Literature is a calling. Having all three beautifully woven together in a delightful murder mystery is a delight. A lovely listen and I am now looking forward to the rest of the series with relish. If you too love Oxford and or history you will find this exquisitely researched book a delight.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

enjoyable

i surprisingly enjoyed this book.. does it rambke a bit.. yes. but still the story moved on fast enough and was goid enough for me to want to try the next.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • K
  • UK
  • 02-08-17

Simple but satisfying.

This was one of those gentle stories that will never challenge you. I do not think less of it for that. Sometimes you don't want great literature; writing that will wrack you with angst and leave you wringing your hands at the the state of the human race. Sometimes you just want to be told a story that will take you on a brief escape somewhere else and lull you back into your real life with as small a jolt as possible. This is one of the latter.

The main character is quaint and endearing. His family situation leaves scope for both a small level of independence and yet he remains bound by responsibility and so the reader won't be wondering if he'll sail off into the horizon at any point. The setting and time frame makes the plot interesting and fairly original - most author's go for historically more documented times. I suppose this means that the author is less likely to be caught out of with the odd historical inaccuracy.

Generally, a relaxing and engaging tale that may have been a bit more lively will a less monotonous narrator.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The Booksellers Tale

Excellent tale. Interesting and informative about the times following the plague in England in the 1300s. The next book, The Novices Tale is better yet. Hope there will be more in the series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Pleasant enough romp

This is a very easy listen with good characterisation. The plot was a little intricate and chock full of red herrings which, to my mind, was unnecessary. Nevertheless I look forward to the next book in this series.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

What would have made The Bookseller's Tale better?

The performance is so wooden it could make even a very engaging and tightly written mystery boring.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The monotone of the narrator killed this book for me.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Solid tale

Really liked it and it's picture of Medieval life. Si!mole and not overcomplicated plot and likeable characters.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Not worth a credit!

I am sure that if one wanted to learn all about Oxford in the 1350s - the streets, the hardships, the method of creating parchment ...... etc etc, one would have been delighted with this book. I found it tiring in the extreme, filled with minutiae that I could really have lived without - and which didn't add to the mystery.
The characters were lack lustre and I found they all merged so I got to a stage where I didn't know who was who.
I think it was a case of 'never use one sentence when three pages will do!
After I found I was shouting at the book in irritation I speeded up the narration, this didn't help much I did then start to skim. This one is not for me as a murder mystery.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Marcheta
  • 07-04-17

Held my interest, excellent historical background

This is my kind of book. The story depended on a well-drawn world of a medieval bookseller and his relationship with Oxford instructors and students. I liked the family members, too. The murder mystery unfolded at a reasonable pace and wasn't predictable. The narrator did a great job. I hope audible releases the second book in this series, The Novice's Tale, with the same narrator. I downloaded the first book from audible of Swinfen's Christopher Alvarez series, but I haven't listened to it yet - now I'll definitely give that series a listen.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • A.
  • 09-07-17

loved it

I first thought it can't hurt to check it out , but I couldn't put it down . Good story and interesting . before reading this , I had no idea how parchment was made. also learned the value of books at that time . I enjoyed the book.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Wren
  • 10-06-17

Wonderfully Detailed Story, Perfect Narration

A lively mystery with engaging details of medieval life. The author knows her setting well, having studied in the (modern day) Oxford.
The narration could not be better, subtle, well spoken, with a range of wonderful British dialects by a native Englishman.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • C.
  • 10-06-17

Great performance, very good story

Loved the narrator. The story was a bit predictable but I loved all the historical details

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Gail N.
  • 11-07-17

Inconsistent character development, weak plot

The historical background material is delivered in a very engaging way and greatly enriched the story. The supporting characters were interesting as well. The main character seemed to be well developed, intelligent and held my interest until the last three chapters. Although the plot was rather predictable, the irritating behavior of the main character as the denouement approached was quite a disappointment. The author had a good story line, fine characters, and a wonderful setting and time period. The resolution of the mystery was however a real clunker.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Denise Reckart
  • 07-07-17

The Booksellers Tale

What must be appreciated in this volume is the obvious proof of the author's time and energy in researching the era. Also combining suspense and comedy is most enjoyable, making her characters very believable. It is easy to imagine the scenes at home as she so vividly describes them. This is, perhaps, one of my favorites. I am an avid Sherlock Holmes fan, therefore the deductions and reasonings were a special delght. Bravo! I'm looking forward to many more volumes.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Judith A. Weller
  • 18-06-17

Great Start of New Series

I like the setting and time period a lot. - 14th century Medieval England just after the Plague has ended. The author knows the period and bring it alive for the readers. The narrator is good at the different voices which makes it great listening entertainment.

The Mystery was well done and ties in nicely with the way books were created in this period. You will learn a lot about how books were created and illustrated by hand. The main character is a very liable person which adds to the enjoyment of the book.

For readers who like historical mysteries, be sure to read this book it is a winner.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Constance Jenkins
  • 30-01-18

Excellent medieval mystery

I very much enjoyed this book. The historical setting and characters were both quite engaging. Yes, as others have mentioned, the mystery is a bit predictable (but when you are an avid mystery reader, that starts to be a common woe...so many mysteries are and we just get better at solving them, I think). Watching the plot unfold was still worth reading.

The narrator was very good.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Richard Swinfen
  • 28-09-17

Loved this Oxford Medieval Mystery

Beautifully, simply but cleverly written. Loved reading & listening to this murder mystery Oxford tale. Even our children enjoyed listening to their grandmother's tale while on several journeys. 😊💞👍

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Patrick
  • 11-09-17

Dull and plodding

The narrator did a fair job but the story was simply uninteresting. None of the characters had any personality at all and the plot was quite boring.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful