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Hostage To Fortune
Bradecote and Catchpoll Mystery - Book IV
BY Sarah Hawkswood

Allison and Busby
12 March 2020/ ISBN 9780749024789
Mystery / Historical

Reviewed by Rachel Hyde 


January 1144: It is the start of a very cold winter but Undersheriff Hugh Bradecote’s fiancée, Christina, is determined to go on a pilgrimage to pray for a child to bless their upcoming marriage. As she is travelling with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s envoy and his party it looks fairly safe, but soon the group have been captured by a mercenary who enjoys killing and his band of outlaws. Then there is the problem of who is making false coinage…

It is always a treat to read another book in this fairly new mediaeval mystery series. Each book is filled with engaging characters, a lightly sketched but realistic background and plenty of exciting detecting. This is something of a departure from the first three books in the series, in that it is a thriller rather than a puzzle mystery. We know who the kidnappers are and the identity of the coiner, and, instead of sleuthing, Bradecote, Catchpoll and their team are racing to intercept the party and get back the hostages. I normally prefer mysteries, but this one is genuinely exciting, with the action going back and forth between each group.

Although this series is set during the conflict between Stephen and Matilda this aspect of life is very much in the background, as it probably would have been if there was something like this going on. The action is also set far from London in Gloucestershire around a frozen River Severn, and the tactile descriptions of an icy winter had me feeling cold. The sheriff and Wakelin, the gingery apprentice to Catchpoll, have larger parts to play in this novel; thus we get to know more about them.

This is by no means a cozy mystery as there is violence and villainy, but this is tempered with the dashes of humor and humanity in several of the characters. It was not a cozy time, and for a book set in this period to succeed it needs to be authentic. I look forward to reading another in this excellent series, recommended to anybody who enjoys historical mysteries.

Reviews of other titles in this series:

Ordeal by Fire #2
Marked to Die #3
Hostage To Fortune #4

Reviewers Note: Some violence

UK Reviewer: Rachel Hyde's work can be found in The Bead Magazine, Making Jewellery and
Reviewed 2019