As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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by Allison & Busby, 22 September 2016. ISBN: 978-0-7490-2087-3
It is 1143 and the conflict
between King Stephen and his cousin, the Empress Maud, is still disrupting
England. However, in Worcester, Catchpole, the Sheriff’s Serjeant, has worries
closer to home when a fire-raiser starts to set blazes throughout the city and,
in the second fire, an old woman is killed. The Sheriff is away and unavoidably
detained and Catchpole hopes to deal with the crimes himself, but the
undersheriff, Hugh Bradecote, is summoned to help investigate. Bradecote has
problems of his own. His young wife has just died giving birth to their first
child, a son and heir, and he feels racked with guilt because he had never
loved her the way she loved him.
and Bradecote have worked together once before and neither relish the thought
of collaborating again, but, as the fires continue, they move into a good
working relationship and mutual respect. Despite their hard work, the
fire-raiser continues his evil work, with further tragic consequences, and Catchpole
and Bradecote know that they must discover the culprit quickly before the whole
of Worcester goes up in flames.
is the second in the series featuring Bradecote and Catchpole but it works very
well as a stand-alone novel. Catchpole and Bradecote are very different sorts
of men but they are both basically decent people and it is fascinating to
follow the development of their relationship. All the surrounding characters
are brought to life with great skill and it is fun to follow Walkelin, the
young man that Catchpole is training up to become Serjeant when he eventually
retires. Walkelin learns new skills and a whole new way of thinking, although
he has a long way to go before he is as feared by the evil-doers of Worcester
in the same way as his mentor, Catchpole. There is also interesting
observations of the role of Jews in the community at this time, as Bradecote
meets and respects Simeon, a wealthy and civilised Jewish trader.
does not flinch from describing the ugly reality of life in the 12th
Century: families left destitute when their businesses are destroyed, healthy
young women dying in childbirth, orphaned girls being forced into prostitution
to feed younger siblings and the ugly prejudice that will let a Jewish man’s
house burn while no-one in the crowd lifts a finger to aid him.
found the characters and description of medieval life in Ordeal by Fire thoroughly engaging and the book is beautifully
written. I would whole-heartedly recommend it. A page-turner.
Sarah Hawkswooddescribes herself as a wordsmith who is only really
happy when writing. She read Modern History at Oxford and first published a
non-fiction book on the Royal Marines in the First World War before moving on
to medieval mysteries set in Worcestershire. She takes her pen name from one of
her eighteenth century ancestors who lived in Worcestershire, and selected it
because the initials match those of her maiden name. She is married, with two
grown up children, and now lives in Worcestershire.
Carol Westronis a successful short
story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly
Dames.Her crime novels are set both in contemporary
and Victorian times.The Terminal
Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published
July 2013. Her latest book The Fragility
of Poppies was published 10 June 2016.