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Reviewed by Caleb Shadis
Excellent! I really enjoyed The Harlot’s Tale and will be looking up the first book in the series, The Midwife’s Tale. This book was a bit like the other historical English mysteries but it was also surprisingly close to the feel of the Shardlake mysteries–minus the brutality. Maybe because it takes place only about 80 years later. Or because it has that feeling of a time when people had their place and were expected to act accordingly.
Lady Bridget Hodgson is a midwife. The trade was passed down to her from her second mother-in-law. Her mother-in-law knew her son well and suspected that the young Lady Hodgson might eventually be in need of a profession. About a year ago, Lady Hodgson took on an apprentice, Martha, and the two of them are a formidable pair at what ever task they take on.
The ‘godly’ are currently in power in York and a loud fire and brimstone preacher has shown up in town. It happens to be the hottest summer that anyone can remember on record and there doesn’t appear to be any relief in sight. This gives the preacher an excellent pulpit from which to condemn the sinners. God is punishing the city with the unbearable weather because of the faults of sinners like the fornicators and the whores.
Alas, someone seems to take the preacher’s sermon to heart. The city’s harlots are being murdered, sometimes while with their client. Edward Hodgson, Lady Hodgson’s brother in law, is in charge of finding the murderer and stopping the murders. He brings Lady Hodgson to the first crime scene because of help she provided in the past. When Bible verses are found clutched in the hands of the dead, he tells her to leave it in his hands. Of course, she doesn’t.
I thought this was a very well told tale and our two main protagonists were well drawn, with their shortcomings and all. I think the time was depicted very well and the feel of the place and time was amazingly vivid. I highly recommend this book to historical mystery buffs. Well worth the time!
Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.
Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Minotaur Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.