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Vale of Tears
Bradecote and Catchpoll Mystery - Book V
BY Sarah Hawkswood

Allison and Busby
12 March 2020/ ASIN: B07R4BCXW7

Reviewed by Rachel Hyde 


April 1144: A man is found floating in the water near a mill and is soon identified as one Walter Horsward, a horse trader from Evesham. He has been stabbed, but it does not appear that robbery was the motive, so who wanted him dead? Soon there are suspects aplenty and quite possibly another murder…

Five books and counting, I do hope there are more than the six currently in existence. The undersheriff and his two assistants have grown and changed since the first book, a sure sign of an author adept at creating believable characters. After the last book, which was a thriller, we are back with a puzzle mystery, and the action moves from Bradecote’s home and new wife to the Vale of Evesham. Altering the location helps keep things fresh and introduces a whole new cast of characters, and although towards the end it is obvious whodunit, the pace accelerates and I couldn’t put it down.
Once again it was not obvious that the series is set during the conflict between Stephen and Matilda, as hardly any mention was made of it. I don’t know enough to say whether this would have been true, but all the action takes place away from centers of power. Tempering the often rather grim goings-on is the humor arising from the banter between the characters, lifting the mood and making it seem more real and immediate. This is a series of consistently good novels that ticks all the boxes. 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
Vale of Tears #5

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