The fourth chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew continues the adventures of the 14th-century Cambridge physician when he is called to attend to two deaths from some poisoned wine. The opening of a new and very well-endowed college has created petty infighting amongst the academics as new appointments are made. The winter and spring have been appallingly wet, there is a fever outbreak amongst the poorer townspeople and the country is not yet fully recovered from the aftermath of the plague. The increasing reputation and wealth of the Cambridge colleges are causing dangerous tensions between the town, church and university, and then the poisoned wine kills the first victim - a student. The second victim is Dittone, the deputy master of the new college, but there seems no connection between him and the student. Matthew must establish the facts before relations between town and gown spiral out of control.
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