Publication Date: 24th August 2017
Third in the Bradecote and Catchpoll Mystery series
October 1143. A mysterious archer who kills cleanly and ‘dissolves’ into the forest, a missing train of pack mules on the salt road from Wich, and a lord in the wrong place at the wrong time, mean a crime the lord Sheriff of Worcestershire cannot ignore.
Bradecote, Catchpoll, and the eager Walkelin, are hunting a killer and a gang, and whoever is giving them orders. They are not helped by a reeve keen to keep his position, a lord with his own ends to serve, and a distrusting and vengeful widow with a haunted past, to whom Bradecote is increasingly attracted.
I approached Allison & Busby a few weeks ago about possibly reviewing some of their new books. I was kindly sent this book in return for an honest review.
Many moons ago I used to collect medieval crime novels, especially Paul Doherty’s Hugh Corbett novels, some of Ellis Peter’s Cadfael novels – I loved the TV adaptation of those books, and Bernard Knight’s Crowner John books. This is an area of fiction I have enjoyed for years and I’ve even planned writing my own, set in Lincolnshire.
Each of these series are usually set in and around a specific county. Sarah Hawkswood has set her series in Worcestershire – and in this case specifically around Droitwich. Wich, as it was known until the 14th century, was a centre of salt production for almost 1500 years. In this novel the salt carrier, taking the salt from Wich to the owners of the salt houses, local lords and abbeys, are attacked on the road by an archer who kills quickly and cleanly, before thugs hide the bodies and take the salt carts away.
Unfortunately, in the first attack, a local lord, Corbin FitzPayne, happens on the attack and is himself killed. This sets in motion an investigation by the Sheriff of Worcestershire, or more accurately, his undersheriff, Hugh Bradecote, and Serjeant Catchpoll, with Apprentice Serjeant Walkelin tagging along to learn the serjeanting trade, are sent to investigate. Two further attacks follow and the pressure to find the murderers is on.
I enjoyed this novel; I haven’t read such an engrossing historical crime novel in such a long time. I was reminded of the novels I mentioned earlier, enjoyed the plot development, and writing. Sarah Hawkswood has a lovely, easy to read writing style. I’m intrigued by the characters and want to see where they’re going to go next.
Definitely one for the historical crime novel fans.