Cover Image: River of Sins

River of Sins

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Member Reviews

Another good addition to this series.
It's engrossing, well researched and entertaining.
Excellent character development, a vivid historical background and a solid mystery.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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Saraj Hawkswood continues her historical mysteries from the time of King Stephen in River of Sins.  Undersheriff Lord Bradcote is called to the corpse of Ricolde a well to do whore.  The cause lies in the distant past of the deceased.  The lawmen have many suspects but no clear evidence on them so they trace the murder to a community outside their own.  Then back to town and two more murders.  Whodunit?
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Thank you for the opportunity to review this book and to participate in its book tour! This was the first time I ever did something like that.... and I enjoyed it! 

First of all, I asked to review this book immediately when I saw the setting/time period. I don't come across books like that often -- however, when I found out that this was part of a series, I was actually slightly worried that I wouldn't "get it", especially considering there were so many others. After communicating with a publicist about that, my fears were wiped away! I read half of this book before the pub date, and then I suggested it to my local library as well as the others so i could read them! 

I want to thank the author and pub team for letting me be a part of this. However, I will be needing to do more reviewing and reading into the series because I want to give even more detailed, up-to-date feedback. I will get the books soon and hopefully provide that on my blog! 

Best of luck to you all.
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I haven’t read any others in the series, but I consider this a Good Find. In the past I had quite a penchant for medieval murder mysteries, but they all seemed the same after a while. I have to say that this is definitely of better quality- the writing, plotting, content and characters and worked well as a stand alone, despite being seventh in series. I will definitely be looking up the others in this series and by this author. Many thanks to Netgalley for an arc of this book.
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River of Sins is the 7th book in Sarah Hawkswood's medieval Bradecote & Catchpoll mystery series. Released 19th Nov 2020 by Allison & Busby, it's 352 pages and is available in paperback and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

This is an intricately crafted and well engineered mystery wrapped around a meticulous and accurate historical framework. The characters are well established with realistic and believable internal motivations and agendas. The author is gifted at providing the necessary information without spoon-feeding readers (or drowning them with floods of unnecessary back story). The pacing is well measured and the whole is an engaging and delightful read. I was unfamiliar with the characters and hadn't read any of the previous books (an oversight I will be remedying immediately). I never felt lost or confused; it works very well as a standalone mystery. 

Despite the horrific nature of the prologue murder (a near-beheading with an axe), there are no really violent or graphic descriptions. The language is fairly clean (PG rated for some medieval double entendre) and the prose is well written. 

I would heartily recommend this one to readers of the historical murder mystery genre, especially fans of Sharon Kay Penman, Ellis Peters, Candace Robb, and Susanna Gregory (and similar). Fans of well written character driven mystery from any period will find much to enjoy here.

Five stars. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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How have I never heard of this series?  As this is the 7th book, you can be sure I am going to read the others.  Thankfully, I didn't feel like I was missing anything - it read just fine as a standalone crime novel.  The characters are interesting and I really liked the personalities.  Definitely checking out the other books!
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This is Bradecote and Catchpoll No, 7, and the series just gets better and better.  I have read the previous books and have charted the progress of the relationship between the inexperienced, recently bereaved Bradecote and the wily old hand, Catchpoll from it's awkward beginnings to the wonderful team in this book, with the addition of the excellent Wakelin.  This competent threesome make for an excellent period mystery and a very satisfying read.

My passion is for historical mystery and I am not easily pleased, yet this book satisfied even my lofty standards.  The period was wonderfully evoked with a wealth of well-researched detail which fully immersed the reader in the time and place.  The dialog also had the ring of authenticity, each character speaking with exactly the voice one would expect from their station in life at that time, with none of the anachronistic 'modern speech in a period setting' dialog that one so often gets in contemporary historical fiction.  The attitudes and mores of the characters were also satisfyingly contemporaneous.

The story is intriguing enough and moves along at an acceptable pace.  The term 'whore' abounds to a jarring extent, but is is clearly used exactly as it would have been at that time so one's 21st century sensibilities are somewhat eased.  The mystery is somewhat complex in parts, and the addition of apparently unrelated murders adds to the melee.  Surprisingly enough, the ingénue Wakelin seems to fit together many of the clues.  He's coming along quite nicely!  Refreshingly unlike Agatha Christie and her ilk, the murderer turns out to be not the least likely person but the most likely, and this is no spoiler since one doesn't really realise that until the final denouement.

A great book - enjoy it.
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This is book seven of a series; and funny thing is, I think I have read the first one, but GR says apparently not.  The characters seem so familiar to me as does the storyline of book one.

I enjoyed it - I love a good historical "whodunnit" and the author takes us on the same meandering path as the Severn River.  The time is set during what came to be known as "The Anarchy", when Empress Maud and King Stephen fought for the throne of England in the 12th Century.  

Plenty of investigating, clue following, suspect interviewing - for the methods of investigation were not as scientifically exacting as they are today.  And public perception of a person's character held more weight than whether they were innocent or not.

If you like the Cadfael series, you will take to this one - will most likely go back and read them from the start as there are references to previous events and characters.
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I have enjoyed this series with regular characters, seeing the development of team work between the three men who investigate murders together in the town of Worcester, year 1144. This outing includes quite a bit of fumbling in the dark as the search for a killer of the most established whore of Worcester turns up many surprises about her life, but few clues as to who would murder her in such a brutal manner. There will be other bodies as the men fail to find the truth.
Eventually matters come to a violent end with identification and then capture, but Bradecote nearly drowns in the action. His wife makes a visit to the town to bring him news.
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Medieval murder investigations!

An introduction to a new (for me) medieval mystery is exciting. Set in Worchester in 1141, we have a beautiful dead woman, Ricolde, whom it seems was known as the Whore of Worchester. Deplored by the women of the area and yet loved by the local clergy for her generosity for her charitable donations for caring for the poor. Ricolde is a puzzle, an astute business woman and a whore, not the usual combination. It seems she's chosen a life that gives her independence and income. Although if the antics of the local women is anything to go by, no friendships with people of her own gender. Ricolde's body was discovered upstream from her home on an island in the middle of the River Severn. How did she get there and who committed this ghastly crime? That is up to the undersheriff Lord Bradecote and Worchester Serjeant Catchpoll to find out. An interesting journey for them and us as the culprit is rooted out.
The doings of this investigative duo may be my first reading but it won't be my last.

An Allison & Busby ARC via NetGalley
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Summer 1144 and a man find a body on an island in the middle of the river Severn near to Worcester.  She is identified as Ricolde, the 'whore of Worcester' and she has been butchered.  Undersheriff Bradecote and his deputy Catchpole have the task of investigating her murder.  Ricolde had escaped a life of cruelty and poverty in the only way she could but was known as being generous and supportive to others so the answer to her death must lie in her childhood.
I hadn't read any of the previous books in the series and, whilst not a major handicap, this did mean I did not understand references to previous tales.  The story is strong enough and the setting nicely steeped in medieval times.  However it never really seemed to grip me, enjoyable as it was.
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*Many thanks to Sarah Hawkswood, Allison & Busby, and NetGalley for arc in exchange for my honest review.*
My second book with a memorable couple, Bradecote and Catchpoll, who this time have to find the culprit behind the brutal murder of a woman of ill-repute. The year is 1144 and Worcester is a busy city. The River Severn gives employment and witnesses brutality and crime, present and the past.
I found this book interesting, with solid historical background with regard to the descriptions of the places, people and their daily lives, both dwelling in the city and farming the land. The mystery is well-told and quite intriguing.
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As a huge fan of historical crime mysteries, I’m surprised it’s taken me so long to discover Sarah Hawkswood’s ‘Bradcote and Catchpoll’ series set in medieval Worcester. However, better late than never!  It also allows me to reassure readers that, despite being the seventh in the series, River of Sins can definitely be enjoyed without having read any of the previous books. There are a few references to earlier events and to the back stories of the leading characters, including some personal tragedies and longstanding enmities, but this in no way spoiled the book for me.

Hugh Bradcote, Undersheriff of Worcestershire and Serjeant Catchpoll make a great team. I get the impression that initial reservations they may have had about working together have been replaced by mutual respect and trust. Catchpoll has the street level knowledge of their patch, the keen eye of a detective and a reputation for taking no nonsense. Bradecote, on the other hand, may not have the detective nous of his sergeant but he has a keen sense of justice and can command the respect his status brings. In fact, they often deploy not so much a ‘good cop, bad cop’ strategy as a ‘toff cop, common cop’ approach with advantageous results. Walkelin, Catchpoll’s apprentice, brings youthful energy and some keen observational skills to the mix.

River of Sins has all the features of a police procedural but transported to medieval Worcester: securing the crime scene, gathering physical evidence, interviewing witnesses and identifying possible suspects.  There are plenty of the latter but the one thing missing, especially as events take an unexpected turn, is motive.  As Catchpoll observes to Bradcote, “There is no ‘why’, my lord, and that worries me. Until we have the ‘why’, I do not see my way clear to the ‘who'”.

As the investigation progresses, secrets from the past and hidden agenda are revealed along with tantalizing clues and false trails all enveloped in the atmosphere of medieval Worcester.  The author keeps the tension building with some dramatic scenes as Bradcote and Catchpoll close in on the culprit.

I really enjoyed River of Sins.  It’s a skillfully crafted mystery with plenty of period detail and two likeable leading characters. The good news is not only have I found a new historical crime series to follow but I have the six previous books to catch up on while I await the next investigation for Bradecote and Catchpoll, promised for 2021.
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Thanks Netgalley and the Publisher    Not the sort of book I normally read  but I carried on but have to say it was okay but not good.
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This was my first foray into the Bradecote and Catchpoll series, so while there may be character nuances I missed because of not knowing the previous relationships I found it perfectly enjoyable as a stand alone mystery and never felt lost, or like I had to go read the previous ones. Historical Fiction and Mystery readers alike will enjoy this one, probably for the more intellectual or seasoned reader. 

The Mystery set up itself was unique in that we know who the murder is from the first scene, but we don't know WHO he is within the characters presented later on. I loved this aspect, and definitely went back and forth on who I thought it was throughout the book. 

I liked the Medieval setting (probably one of my favorite parts of this), even though the "detecting" itself reminded me a little of the more Victorian police procedurals, it worked very well in my mind to bridge the gap between contemporary and medieval. I've read a few other "Medieval Mysteries" and felt like this one somehow made better sense to a modern reader while still having all the historical aspects that made it so interesting. 

The relationship between all these gentlemen (essentially medieval police) with their various backgrounds and strengths was the real character angle draw of this story, and I definitely felt sentimental towards them all by the end and would definitely pick up more books featuring them. I think if I had been familiar with these characters already I would have enjoyed it even more - just like with any series once you are invested in the characters they have a sort of pull on you that continues throughout.  A solid 3.5 Stars.
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River of Sins is the seventh novel in the Bradecote and Catchpoll historical crime series by Sarah Hawkswood, and they just keep getting better and better.

This one begins with the brutal murder of a woman on an island in the River Severn in 1144, and Undersheriff Bradecote and Sergeant Catchpoll have their work cut out for them trying to identify and catch the killer.

The woman’s name is Ricolde, and before her death she was “the finest whore in Worcester.” But it turns out there is a lot more to her than that title would suggest, and this is a theme of the whole novel: how women are perceived, usually by men, and how that is often so much more one-dimensional than who they really are. It’s not a feminist story as such, but the female characters are so well-drawn that more than one has stayed with me for days after reading.

I am liking the pairing of the lord Bradecote and the down-to-earth local sergeant Catchpoll more and more. Apprentice Sergeant Walkelin gets more to do in this one too, on both a professional and personal level, and it’s great to see the three of them developing not just a solid working relationship, but a deeper understanding of each other.

The solution to the brutal crime seems simple at first, but of course the waters become appropriately muddied as the investigation proceeds. These novels are basically 12th Century police procedurals, and while contemporary versions of the genre aren’t really my cup of tea, the charm and fascination of the historical setting offsets that. Hawkswood seamlessly adds enough interesting and authentic detail that you feel you are in the period, without ever getting bogged down in masses of description. It’s a fine line and she walks it skilfully.

I devoured this in three sittings, and when I reached the final third I found it impossible to put down. The climactic scenes had me holding my breath more than once.

I would rate this 4.5, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Hawkswood earns that final elusive star from me in the next instalment, which I will certainly be reading as soon as it appears.

Thank you to @allisonandbusby and #Netgalley for offering me an ARC of this novel in return for an honest review.
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It is the summer of 1144. A few miles north of the City of Worcester the manor reeve of Bevere, Heribert, has been alerted by a young boy, who had brought his swine to the water’s edge to drink, that there is something amiss on Bevere island in the river Severn. What he finds there is so shocking that it compels him to ride immediately to Worcester and seek out the lord sheriff, William de Beauchamp. 

The lord sheriff is away from the castle on other matters but he is seen by the undersheriff, Lord Bradecote and his assistant Serjeant Catchpoll, who, having listened to his report, accompany the reeve back to Bevere Island where they discover a badly mutilated corpse. The corpse has been subject to what must have been a frenzied attack to such an extent that it is barely possible to tell whether it is a man or a woman and has been disfigured beyond recognition.  Catchpoll, however, senses that he may have identified the victim.

Back in Worcester they are able to confirm that, as Catchpoll suspects, the victim is a woman who goes by the name of Ricolde. She is well known in the city, notorious even, as “The Whore of Worcester”. In twelfth-century Worcester there were, no doubt, a great many women forced into prostitution simply to survive and they were widely reviled for the dangerous and precarious lives they led. But Ricolde, it seems was different. She was an astute businesswoman who knew her own worth and had built a prosperous, if outcast, life for herself by understanding, and providing for, the particular needs of her prosperous clients. 

The initial investigations in the city of Worcester throw up a number of possible suspects but interrogation of these men produces no break-through in the case. It becomes clear that the immediate problem that Bradecote and Catchpoll, enthusiastically assisted by Catchpoll’s apprentice Walkelin, have to solve is what is it that connects the relatively affluent “Whore of Worcester” to the site of the murder and what it is about that connection that led to the intense violence of her killing. 
It is the river Severn that lies at the heart of this story and Bradecote, Catchpoll and Walkelin have to travel its course between Worcester and Bevere Island to question everyone they can find in the hamlets and villages on its banks in order to unravel Ricolde’s story and the events that led to her death. But just as they begin to feel that they are beginning to understand what lies behind her murder a second killing, of a poor street whore in Worcester, throws their theories into disarray. 

A great many twists and turns lie in store for the reader of this pleasingly complex historical crime novel before the dogged and diligent inquiries of Bradecote and his men lead them to the identity of the murderer. We also see in this novel how, as they work together, the respect Bradecote, Catchpoll and Walkelin have for each other grows in spite of the rigid social constraints of the times they live in.

The author creates a real sense of what life was like in this period of history for people of all walks of life and positions in society, high or low. The characters are all well drawn and believable and display attitudes and behaviours that both reflect the harshness of the times and yet suggest that people were still capable of compassion and concern for their fellows. 

This novel has clearly been written by someone with a deep knowledge and understanding of the period who is capable of using that knowledge to create a convincing impression of England at that time against which to present this very enjoyable medieval mystery. Highly recommended.

I would like to express my thanks to Net Galley and Allison and Busby for making a free download of this book available to me.
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The story is set in 12th century England. The "finest whore in Worcester" has been brutally murdered  and we follow in the footsteps of the Undersheriff and his sergeant, Bradecote and Catchpoll, as they unravel the mystery. This is book 7. I was captivated by the elegant and vintage feel of the cover and the enigmatic title of the book. 
The investigators did not want for suspects and the investigation was quite long-winded and thorough. Although other aspects of 12th century life felt authentic, the poverty, hardships and squalor was not vividly depicted but this did not detract from the story itself. And, although the story was about prostitutes the desperation of their lot was also not a main part of the story. Instead, the main victim is one who has managed to rise above all that... Again, it did not effect the story itself and I just accepted it as the author's choice to stay away from the harsh realities of the time. 
However, the whole plot was marred by the fact that the killer's background was disclosed in the very first chapter! So, as the reader, I already knew of his connection to the victim and the identity of the victim as well, so much of the book lacked suspense. The only mystery was that we did not know his name. It was a slow read as I waited for the two protagonists to catch up with what I already knew... If only that first chapter had been edited differently, this would have been an intricate murder mystery. 
Thank you to the publishers and to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.
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4.5 stars
I did enjoy this story very much. The author really captured the feel of what it was like to live in this period, from the various merchants to the peasants working in their lord’s fields. It also made the reader aware of the different stations in society and how they viewed each other and the fact that few people ventured further than their immediate surroundings. This all comes into play in this story. I enjoyed the camaraderie between Lord Bradecote, the under sheriff and Serjeant Catchpole. This certainly had me wondering who could be the culprit and I didn’t guess who it was, so it kept my interest to the end. I will look out for more of these stories. I received a copy and have voluntarily reviewed it. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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It would have probably made more sense to read the previous books, because I am sure it would have made my reading experience even better if I was already familiar with the characters. Nontheless, I have a new series of books to read now, all thanks to me mistakingly being lured by this one. 
I love a good crime novel. Especially a historical one. Rivers of Sin was such a pleasant read, I am so sad not to have read any of the previous books already. The setting in more or less rural England was perfect for the story. The writing was fresh and exciting and I loved the characters. I can't wait for another book and I'll definitely read this one again once I've finished the previous ones.
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