Three interlaced stories filled with music, murder, fire and fraud - erratically controlled by a narrator - comprise Scrundle: A Historical Novel.
In 1348, as the Black Death spreads in Europe, musicians, who play a massive instrument called the Scrundle, are caught between two feuding barons. One captures them and the other burns the instrument on the advice of a peasant, who believes it to be a symbol of pestilence and religious corruption. Two musicians escape to tell the tale in a manuscript, or MS. One baron is banished for the destruction, while the other?s widow builds Scrundle Hall in Cambridge, bequeathing the MS to the College.
In 1659, Joshua Mayne, descendent of the banished baron and a Fellow of the College, plans to translate the MS, and recreate the instrument. Ejected for heretical beliefs, he murders the College librarian, steals the MS, and covers his tracks by setting fire to the College. He escapes to his family home, where his unpolished translation remains in the family library.
By 2000, the last of the Mayne family has refounded the College and intends to bequeath the family library to it. A musicology Fellow steals the Scrundle MS and other valuable items prior to cataloguing. Meanwhile, a television archaeological team has been invited to excavate the College foundations. It arrives when the library is finally delivered, unearths the bones of the murdered librarian, and tries to explain the original fire, even as another is about to ignite.