After The Medieval Murderers had worked together for a while, we decided we'd like to see whether or not we could write a book together.
Now, we knew that if we wrote a series of short stories, no publisher would want it. Anthologies rarely sell that well. And we didn't any of us particularly like the idea, because being novelists, we're all used to being allowed to spread ourselves on the page, and restrictions are hard to live with. So we hit on the idea of a set of five or six novellas, each of them 25,000 words, to build up to a coherent story. We were convinced that there had to be a consistent strand running through all the novellas to justify the book.
The common theme which we decided upon was that of a cursed relic, a piece of the True Cross which had been cursed when it was stolen from a church, and which has subsequently been passed on through time with disastrous results. This allowed us to write sections of the book for our main characters, all in their own centuries, as the relic passes from one hand to another.
In July 1100 Susanna Gregory, writing as Simon Beaufort, begins the story when Geoffrey Mappestone is first to handle the relic. Decades later, and Bernard Knight takes up the story when the relic turns up in the possession of a dealer robbed and murdered near Exeter and Crowner John learns of its dark history.
In Oxford in 1269 a decapitated monk leads to Ian Morson's William Falconer uncovering a grisly connection to the relic. My own Sir Baldwin Furnshill suspects its involvement in five violent deaths in Exeter, and thirty years later Susanna Gregory's Matthew Bartholomew finds that the relic is responsible for deaths during debates about the Holy Blood relics.
Finally Philip Gooden's Nick Revill finds that it has been dispatched to London, where it falls into the hands of an unscrupulous book dealer.
Praise for The Tainted Relic
"Monks, mists, madness, taverns: the evocation of a strange but familiar Other Britain shrouded in time... A must for Historical Crime buffs"
Ralph Lees, Tangled Web
"Medieval life with its superstition, smells and cruelty leaps off the page. A variety of backgrounds, from the Holy Land to Oxbridge and Saint Bartholomew's Fair, add to the colour and make this a truly entertaining historical mystery"
Good Book Guide
Order The Tainted Relic from Amazon:
The Tainted Relic is published as an unabridged audiobook, narrated by Stephen Thorne, (ISBN: ISBN: 978 1 4074 7896 8), by Whole Story Audio Books.
Order it direct from the WSAB web site, where you can also listen to an extract.