I’m delighted to be joining other book bloggers in celebrating publication today of Wolf at the Door, the ninth in Sarah Hawkswood historical mystery series.
About the Book
All Hallow’s Eve, 1144. The savaged body of Durand Wuduweard, the solitary and unpopular keeper of the King’s Forest of Feckenham, is discovered beside his hearth, his corpse rendered barely identifiable by sharp teeth.
Whispers of a wolf on the prowl grow louder and Sheriff William de Beauchamp’s men, Hugh Bradecote and Serjeant Catchpoll, are tasked with cutting through the clamour. They must uncover who killed Durand and why while beset by superstitious villagers, raids upon manors and further grim deaths. Out of the shadows of the forest, where will the wolf’s fangs strike next?
Format: eARC (288 pages) Publisher: Allison & Busby
Publication date: 19th August 2021 Genre: Historical Fiction, Crime, Mystery
Find Wolf at the Door (A Bradecote and Catchpoll Investigation, #9) on Goodreads
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I’ve become a big fan of Sarah Hawkswood’s historical mystery series set in medieval Worcestershire and featuring Hugh Bradecote, Undersheriff of Worcestershire, his assistant Serjeant Catchpoll, and Catchpoll’s protege, Walkelin. Luckily new books in the series are coming thick and fast with River of Sins published in November 2020 and Blood Runs Thicker in March this year.
Although the ninth in the series, I can reassure readers that Wolf at the Door can definitely be enjoyed without having read any of the previous books. The references to earlier events and to the back stories of the leading characters will help to bring new readers up-to-date.
As with previous books, Wolf at the Door has all the features of a police procedural but transported to medieval times: examining crime scenes (rather gruesome ones in this case), gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses and identifying possible suspects. Walkelin even tries his hand at the odd spot of surveillance.
Bradecote and Catchpoll make a great team. Catchpoll has an in-depth knowledge of their patch, the ne’er do wells who reside in it and possesses the keen eye of a detective. He also has a reputation for taking no nonsense. For example, when Catchpoll states his intention to have ‘interesting words’ the following morning with a suspect taken into custody, the thought of it makes several observers shudder and thank their lucky stars it’s not them. And we shouldn’t forget Walkelin, Catchpoll’s apprentice, who adds youthful enthusiasm and some keen observational skills to the mix.
Bradecote may not have the detective nous of his sergeant but he has the ability to use his status to gain access to people and places that would otherwise be denied, or to intimidate others. In fact, he and Catchpoll often use not so much a ‘good cop, bad cop’ strategy as a ‘toff cop, common cop’ approach with advantageous results. As Catchpoll grudgingly concedes, Bradecote’s ‘high-and-mighty arrogance laid on thick, works a treat’.
This time Bradecote and Catchpoll don’t just face the challenge of investigating a murder seemingly without motive but doing so within a community terrified by talk of wolves or, even worse, werewolves. Furthermore, Bradecote has a particular reason for wanting to solve the case quickly.
As the investigation progresses, there are tantalizing clues and false trails many of which seem to lead to nearby Feckenham Forest. The author keeps the tension building with some dramatic scenes as Bradecote and Catchpoll close in on the culprits and the reader discovers just what lengths they are prepared to go to.
Wolf at the Door is another skillfully crafted mystery that moves at pace and has plenty of period detail. I’m already looking forward to the next investigation for Bradecote and Catchpoll due to be published next year.
I received an advance review copy courtesy of Allison & Busby via NetGalley.
In three words: Intriguing, atmospheric, assured
Try something similar: The Monastery Murders by E. M. Powell
About the Author
Sarah Hawkswood describes herself as a ‘wordsmith’ who is only really happy when writing. She read Modern History at Oxford and her factual book on the Royal Marines in the First World War, From Trench and Turret, was published in 2006. The Bradecote and Catchpoll series are her first novels.
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.
She is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association, the Historical Writers’ Association, and the Historical Novel Society.