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Blood Runs Thicker

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Member Reviews

Another exciting mediaeval mystery in the Bradecote and Catchpoll series by Sarah Hawkswood, set in the 12th century, a lawless time. The Undersheriff Bradecote of Worcestershire, Serjeant Catchpoll and the apprentice Walkelin have to solve the mystery of Osbern de Lench´s death. His heir Baldwin tries to blame his half-brother Hamo for the murder, but he´s not the only suspect.

The description not only of the varied characters, but also of the "detectives" is magnificently done, as well as the historical background. The relationships within the village lead and mislead the trio till certain happenings point in the right direction. Besides the mediaeval setting and characters I loved the personal connections especially of Bradecote, which also provide some funny moments.

The right mystery for lovers of the Brother Cadfael series, but with more historical accuracy and excitement.

Thanks to the publishers Allison & Busby and Netgalley for providing an ebook ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Medieval mysteries tend to fall into two categories, the truly awful or the truly wonderful.  This novel luckily falls into the later category with characters you can relate to, a well crafted mystery, and a setting that is on point.
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*Many thanks to Sarah Hawkswood, Allison and Busby, and NetGalley for arc in exchange for my honest review.*
Another instalment in the Bradecote and Catchpoll series offers a mystery murder of the lord of the manor and some more as well. The duo, together with a clever and observant apprecntice Walkelin, have a knot on their hands that is tight, however, yet they succeed again.
Apart from the plot, I always appreciate Ms Hawkswood's books for solid historical background and a lot of information on the life in England in the 12th century.
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Thoroughly enjoyed this medieval mystery! It's entertaining, quite absorbing and the setting feels just right.
Another reviewer mentioned that this isn't high literature. I agree and I did not expect it to be. This book is like enjoying a comforting mug of hot cocoa, not a glass of premium champagne ;) 
It's satisfying and immersive. And I think it was written with that goal in mind.

There was one thing that kept pulling me out of the story and that was the fact that it wasn't clear to me on quite a few occasions who was doing the talking. Only after a couple of sentences I found out 'oh this was Bradecote' or 'huh this was Baldwin', which was distracting and confusing sometimes. Why is the author so rigid in her dialogue structure. I've never encountered this before in any other book.

I received this book as an ARC from Netgalley.
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So this became a DNF for me about 20% in. I was definitely expecting a bit of a more traditional historical fiction in terms of the book having a historical setting but a modern voice. This book is very much accurate to its time setting (11th century I Believe), especially including language and dialogue.  I sadly find myself unable to relate to, or enjoy books structured like this, hence the DNF. Therefore, if a historical fiction with the above criteria is right up your alley and exactly what you've been looking for, give this book a try. If your reading tastes are anything like mine you might want to skip this one.
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Blood Runs Thicker is another enthralling medieval mystery from the pen of Sarah Hawkswood.
The year is 1144 and the people of rural Worcestershire are busily collecting in the year's harvest, before the weather closes in. Irascible landowner Osbern de Lench takes his customary daily ride to the top of a hill, from which he can view his lands. When his horse returns to the manor riderless, his steward and workers begin to search for their master. It's not long before they come across his body, which has been stripped of its outer clothing and unceremoniously dumped in nearby forest. De Lench's eldest son and heir, Baldwin de Lench, who takes after his father in temperament, is quick to point the finger at his half-brother, younger son Hamo.
Enter Undersheriff of Worcester, Hugh Bradecote, Sargeant Catchpoll (what a wonderfully appropriate name!) and sheriffing Apprentice Walkelin, who arrive in Lench just in time to prevent a summary execution. Potential suspects abound - neither of the deceased's sons seem to mourn their father's death, his wife has sought comfort from his regular beatings in the arms of another man and there are animosities with neighbouring landowners. This is a complex mystery for our trio of medieval detectives to solve, as it seems nobody is willing to tell them the truth. A second murder, of a much-respected villager, leads them closer to the terrible truth.
Once again, Sarah Hawkswood creates a convincing medieval setting, with a varied cast of new and recurring characters. It's quite an accomplishment that she makes the concerns, motivations and behaviour of these 12th century people both familiar and stimulating to a modern crime-reading audience. As with her previous title, River of Sins, Hawkswood weaves a deliciously multi-layered plot, with plenty of villainous behaviour, complex motives and hidden relationships. The central trio of Bradecote, Catchpoll and Walkelin have a great dynamic of mutual support and respect with frequent injections of wry humour.
I'd highly recommend Blood Runs Thicker to readers who enjoy well-researched historical fiction, complex police procedural crime novels or both. For those lovers of Ellis Peters' excellent Brother Cadfael series who are yet to discover Sarah Hawkswood's work, you're in for a treat!
My thanks to author Sarah Hawkswood, publisher Allison & Busby and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this title.
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I received Blood Runs Thicker as part of a NetGallery giveaway.

In 12th century England, the hot-tempered lord Osbern de Lench is found murdered during his daily trip to peruse his holdings. A bevy of suspects in the village and surrounding areas soon become apparent: his two squabbling sons, his miserable widow, his surly steward, and two rival landowners who had bad blood with the late de Lench. While no one truly mourns the man, undersheriff Bradecote and his two lieutenants, Catchpoll and Walkelin, must unravel the twisted web of relationships and secrets to uncover the true murderer.

This was a solid mystery. I had a bit of trouble visualizing the geography of the area and crime scene--a map would have been useful--so much of the postulating from that direction was a little lost on me. I liked the medieval setting, though ultimately I don't think it was integral to the mystery itself--it's more about secrets and rumors that can befall families and their surrounding communities.. I liked the trio of Bradecote, Catchpoll, and Walkelin, and found their dynamics fun and well-developed. A solid entry in what seems like a cool series.
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Thank you to Allison & Busby who kindly sent me Sarah Hawkswood’s Blood Runs Thicker, the eight novel in Hawkswood’s Bradecote and Catchpoll historical mystery series. As a first time reader, I definitely did not feel lost in the book, references to the previous novels are touched on but are not necessarily important to this particular story. The book is basically a medieval whodunit and it was a lot of fun to read!

Set in 1144, Bradecote and Catchpoll are called upon to investigate the murder of Osbern de Lench, a lord who is not particularly popular due to his cruelty, meaning there is a vast array of potential enemies. The pair, coupled with apprentice Walkelin, stalk medieval Worcestershire for clues and evidence of who could have possibly done the crime. What I liked about the novel is that the clues dotted around are not outright obvious to the reader. Throughout the book I was still left questioning who the mysterious killer was.

Finding out Hawkeswood read Modern History at Oxford made a lot of sense. Its clear in the novel a lot of research went into it, and nothing seemed out of place or untimely to the setting. The speech of characters seemed realistic and was easy to follow. Some historical novels seem to exaggerate the historical context or setting to prove their research, but Blood Runs Thicker seemed completely natural and flowed really well!

Background characters were interesting too, particularly with insights on women at the time and the hardships they faced due to gender politics. My favourite characters were Mother Winflaed and her young apprentice girl, I enjoyed reading about all the herbal remedies that would have been administered at the time! The one thing I would say is it did seem a little out of place at how sympathetic Bradecote was to the women’s struggles in novel, as the awareness of the barriers women faced seems a bit too modern for the time. But I also understand this makes him a more likeable character, and I appreciated how women were represented and highlighted overall.
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I took part in the Blog Tour for this book, head to BookVanity on Twitter to read about my thoughts!
***
A gripping historical read, you can tell instantly how much time and energy has gone into the crafting of this book. It's right up my alley. I love immersive historical fiction and although this is part of a series, it functions as a standalone too. Personally, I hadn't read any of the books that came before it but after having completed this I will definitely be adding them to my TBR list. I am grateful for the chance to read this book ahead of it's release and will be recommending it to anyone who loves a good historical mystery!
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A new instalment in the investigations of Undersheriff Hugh Bradcote and his Sergeant Catchpoll with apprentice Walkelin with much to learn. Called to Lench where the killing of Lord Osbern de Lench seems straightforward. His son Baldwin believes his stepbrother Hamo is the culprit not many would disagree as he was regarded locally as strange. Used to investigations in town Bradcote and Catchpoll have all the rituals and vagrancies of local manor life where a Lord is answerable to no one. There are many who hated Lord Osbern and the investigation will take many twists and turns when his past is looked into. There is a great rapport between Bradcote and Catchpoll who have their own way of deciding who’s boss. You will be taken back to a time where life was short and very unfair for the majority of workers and through their investigation Bradcote will show his caring side to those less fortunate. An exciting mystery will have you wanting more of this team.
I was given an arc of this book by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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As someone who likes to think of themselves as a very enthusiastic amateur historian, there are few things that I like to hear more than ‘medieval murder mystery’. Umberto Eco’s The Name Of The Rose is one of my favourite books, so I was excited to be given the chance to get my hands on Sarah Hawkswood’s Blood Runs Thicker, a murder mystery set in 12th century England. It wasn’t until I finished the book that I realised Blood Runs Thicker is actually the eighth in The Bradecote and Catchpoll series, and I am woefully behind the times. 
Blood Runs Thicker follows Hugh Bradecote, vassal lord to the Sheriff, and Sheriff’s Serjeant Catchpoll as they try to solve the murder of Osbern de Lench, a tyrannical lord found dead after his usual midday ride out. There is no end of suspects. De Lench’s heir is just as hot tempered as his father. There’s another son who was unaccounted for at the time of the crime, and plenty of other enemies around as well who might have it in for de Lench. Bradecote and Catchpoll, along with Catchpoll’s apprentice Walkelin, have a mighty puzzle on their hands. 
I mentioned that I didn’t know until I finished the book that I had no idea there was a series of novels before this, and I mean it. The book read as though the characters were fresh from Hawkswood’s mind, so to speak. It is made clear that each volume of The Bradecote and Catchpoll series stands alone. This is a claim that I’ve seen many times, but before this one, I don’t really think I’ve ever come across a series where that is true apart from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. What makes Blood Runs Thicker, and Hawkswood’s writing, so impressive is that I couldn’t see the seams between the story for new readers such as myself and loyal followers of Bradecote and Catchpoll. Looking back on what I can now see are scenes which loyal readers would have prior knowledge of, I think Hawkswood really has achieved something to be remarked upon.  At no time did I feel like I was missing information. It’s a technical point to make, I know, but I really admire the craft it must take to cater to both audiences.
Blood Runs Thicker also feels fresh – ironic, for a book set in the 1100s – because it is such an old school murder mystery. What I mean by that is that all we have to do to try and solve the mystery ourselves is read closely and note what the characters are saying and seeing. There is no DNA evidence. There’s no last-minute CCTV to save the day. Bradecote and Catchpoll have their eyes and ears, and their experience – nothing more. I don’t have anything against modern murder mysteries, but all too often the answer is something clever that the reader had no chance of knowing or surmising. By having these characters in this setting, so far back from even Agatha Christie’s style of mystery, you really feel as though you could be in with a chance of figuring it out – which is half the fun, of course. 
Not that I did figure it out of course – Hawkswood is too smart a writer for that. Her story is tightly plotted, with not a word out of a place or a single superfluous character to get in the way. The murderer genuinely could have been any one of her carefully established suspects, and we were kept on the edge right until the end. Catchpoll is the really experienced man when it comes to murder, and he’s such a great character; a bit gruff and more than a little bit insubordinate, but so good at his job that it doesn’t seem to matter. But he isn’t good at it in an annoying way – in everything he says, you can completely follow his thinking and understand how he came to the conclusion that he did. Again, this book – and I can assume this series – has some seriously good writing. 
Loyal readers of The Bradecote and Catchpoll series won’t need me to go and tell them to get hold of Blood Runs Thicker. But if you haven’t heard of the series before, and you like historical or crime fiction, then definitely consider Blood Runs Thicker. I hope it will draw you in just as it did for me. As for me, I’m off to read the rest. I know I won’t regret it. 
Review copy provided.
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Another excellent story in this excellent series.
It's engrossing and entertaining, good character development and vivid background as usual.
The solid mystery, full of twists and turns, kept me guessing and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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The historical thriller genre has always been a fan favourite. Thanks to writers like C. J. Samson, Ellis Peters and Ariana Franklin, it has enjoyed years in the sun recently. And Sarah Hawkswood is well in the fray as well, which is where we find her new Bradecote novel Blood Runs Thicker.

Set in Worcestershire in the mid-12th century, the De Lench family is sent spiralling into crisis when Osbern, the lord of the manor, is found dead. Called to try and put the pieces of a murderous, complex puzzle together, Hugh Bradecote, his assistants Serjeant Catchpoll and Walkelin get drawn into a murky world of treachery, layers of intrigue and questionable morality.

With a vast number of suspects, finding out the truth behind Osbern’s death is as brain-bending for them as it is riveting for us.

Hawkswood’s novel has several classic elements of whodunnit storytelling. There are multiple motives and murky disingenuous characters. There’s familial disenfranchisement, dark pasts a-plenty and simmering feuds. She even has her own Poirot in the shape of Bradecote, a methodical, moral and timely detective who sees through cracks in society to its often-rotten core.

The intricacies and twists are readable and clever without ever being pretentious or having the visible urge to prove itself so.

But there’s also real authenticity here. The scene setting is often beautifully evocative:

‘The church was silent except for the sound of a lone voice chanting in Latin, which faltered as they opened the door’.

And it’s in those moments that you feel like you’re part of the novel itself, sucked in and second-guessing suspects as much as you’re trying to stay one step ahead.

Adding to that flavour is the exuberant dialogue and the cloying sense of claustrophobia in the setting of rural, feudal Worcestershire. Everything feels closer and more inescapable, and when the accusations fly it can get suitably chaotic.

Despite taking place in 1144, central to Hawkswood’s prose is a deep and refreshingly modern lens. There’s a lot about strength in femininity, toxic masculinity and the destruction it causes, and a flipping of gender roles between men and women.

The female characters are given strident voices whilst also being conduits for ethics, personal strength and integrity. Bradecote is pretty much a 21st century feminist, but the modernism is always handled with total care and never feels out of place.

There are also, in the book’s more poignant moments, ruminations on the way very little changes, and in particular the lack of accountability for many men. That this is addressed makes a very welcome change.

Blood Runs Thicker knows it audience, knows it art form and appeases both magnificently. It’s in the dynamics between characters and Hawkswood’s simple but soul-seeing writing that one becomes attached. And while the left-hooks lead to a direct conclusion, it never loses its grittiness or engagement throughout.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I believe that this is number 8 in the series, and I am not sure how they have passed me by so far! If you are a newcomer to the series, like me, then do not worry. This installment reads perfectly well as a standalone. I do, however, now want to go back to the start to see how some of these characters developed. I have always enjoyed historical fiction, but my reading has tended to be limited to the stories of those in and around the Tudor court. Although this story is not set in a palace, there are scandals and gossip aplenty!
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Sarah Hawkswood has written a thoroughly engaging historical mystery, set in England in the 1100s.    Lord Osbern de Lench has been found dead, and it’s obvious from the knife wounds that he has been murdered.  But who did it?   A number of possibilities present themselves, both close-at-hand, among his family, and farther away, in neighboring manors, because he was a harsh, even brutal, man - given to easy anger and easy violence.  

Undersheriff Hugh Bradecote and Serjeant Catchpoll, and their apprentice Walkelin, are sent to figure things out, and we get to follow along as they find clues, interview suspects, work out alibis, and gradually piece together the puzzle.   The interactions among the three are among the most enjoyable moments in the book, especially when Catchpoll and Walkelin pretend to be cowed underlings to enhance Bradecote’s stature with Osbern’s heir, Baldwin, who is cut from the same abusive cloth as his father.   I also really enjoyed Hawkswood’s descriptions of village life, such as when the young healer, Hild, describes the treatment for Bradecote’s own knife wound near the end of the book: “bind [it] tight with a mash of garlic and leek upon the wound, and moss over that for the first days, then honey once there [is] sign of it joining”.  Whew!  Or the overwhelming concern on the part of everyone, from lord to priest to villager, about the weather, and its impact on the harvest, and whether the harvest would be good enough to last through the coming year without famine.  And finally, I found the hints of the changes that came with the Norman invasion less than a century earlier (e.g. people speaking “foreign”) to be intriguing and felt they added to the realistic atmosphere.  

If I have any issues with Blood Runs Thicker, it’s the almost uniformly bleak situation of the women in the story, except for Bradecote’s wife, Christina, and maybe the young healer.    And, even for Christina, there are hints of abuse in her past as well.   I do understand that the lives of most women then may have been that difficult, or close to it.  And I wouldn’t want the author to be Pollyanna-ish about it.  But in the end, I am reading for pleasure, and the almost unrelenting bleakness cast a small shadow across my enjoyment.   This can be a problem with historical mysteries in general, not just this one – how to handle things when modern-day sensibilities differ from the mores of the time.   But in the end, this is still a very enjoyable mystery, and I’m glad to have discovered a new (to me) author with seven previous books in the series to read – oh happy day!

Please note that I tend to try to fight star-flation a little bit, and so I give very few five-star ratings.   So my four-star rating for this book is a definite “read” recommendation.    And I’d like to offer my thanks to the publisher, Allison & Busby, and to NetGalley for the advance review copy.
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I did enjoy this book very much. The characters of Hugh Bradecote, the under sheriff and Serjeant Catchpoll work well together. They really play off one another. Not only is there a murder to solve but the author gives a real flavour of what it was like to live at this time. Set in 1144, the Lord of the Manor was all powerful, the people’s lives depended so much on his rulings and temperament. There was also the superstitions,  the way religion played a great part in their lives and how reliant they were on the weather to be able to provide food for the coming year. I liked the way that Bradecote and Catchpoll went about their investigation, testing out their theories and questioning suspects. This will keep you reading until the end, with a number of different turns as new information is revealed. I received a copy and have voluntarily reviewed it. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Sarah Hawkswood's Bradecote and Catchpoll historical mystery series set in medieval Worcestershire has been around for some time but it's one I only discovered recently when I read River of Sins, the seventh in the series. That made me keen to read more so I was delighted when I spotted the latest book, Blood Runs Thicker, on NetGalley and even more delighted when my request was approved by the lovely people at Allison & Busby.

Readers new to the series can be reassured that Blood Runs Thicker can definitely be enjoyed without having read any of the previous books. The occasional references to earlier events and the back stories of the leading characters, including some personal tragedies and longstanding enmities, are subtly done.

It was a pleasure to be reunited with Hugh Bradcote, Undersheriff of Worcestershire, and Serjeant Catchpoll. Also, enthusiastic young Walkelin, Catchpoll's apprentice, ever eager to prove his abilities and showing early signs of a keen intelligence.  Bradcote and Catchpoll make an effective team each contributing something different. Bradcote has the status to ensure they get access to those they need to speak to whilst Catchpoll possesses the detective nous and a rather intimidating gaze. Once again, they deploy their equivalent of a ‘good cop, bad cop’ strategy or perhaps more accurately ‘toff cop, common cop’. At one point, as they plan how to go about questioning the villagers of Lench, Catchpoll proposes, "Do you come the high and mighty and let me act the willing vessel into which they pours their remembering?". In fact, Catchpoll exhibits a touching pride in the development of Bradecote's investigative instincts. Observing Bradecote's questioning of a suspect, 'Catchpoll very nearly sighed with pleasure. This was just how serjeanting worked.'

In my review of River of Sins I noted that it had all the features of a police procedural but transported to medieval Worcestershire. The same is true of Blood Runs Thicker. Like their modern day counterparts, Bradecote and Catchpoll visit the crime scene in the search for clues and physical evidence, closely examine the body of the victim to establish the cause of death, interview witnesses and explore possible motives. 

What they are refuse to do is accept without question the accusation by Osbern's son, Baldwin, now the new Lord of Lench, that his half-brother, Hamo, is responsible for their father's death. Whilst Baldwin has inherited the short temper and high-handed nature of his father, Hamo is a gentler character albeit with a rather single-minded and literal way of thinking that the villagers of Lench find strange and unsettling. Today we would probably recognize Hamo as being on the autistic spectrum.

Bradecote and Catchpoll begin their search for suspects with the neighbouring lords of the manors, Raoul Parker and Walter Pipard, both of whom Osbern was widely known to have fallen out with. As Bradecote observes, "in dangerous times... petty rivalries hid beneath greater ones". These greater ones include the constantly shifting loyalties of English nobles to Maud and Stephen, the warring rivals for the English throne.

As before, alongside what turns out to be a particularly complex mystery, the author creates a sense of what daily life for the inhabitants of an 11th century manor house and estate must have been like.  Above all the profound desire of everyone for a successful harvest to stave off hunger in the months to come. The latter is a concern Bradecote shares for his own estate.

Blood Runs Thicker is another well-crafted historical mystery involving love, betrayal and family secrets.
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This is the eighth book in a very popular series set in 12th century Worcestershire. I am a latecomer to the party, but I thoroughly enjoyed the previous book River of Sins,  Now, Under-Sheriff Hugh Bradecote and his grizzled ally Serjeant Catchpoll - along with apprentice lad Walkelin - investigate the murder of an irascible and little-loved nobleman, Osbern de Lench.

The late man had a habit of sitting on his horse atop a small hill near his house and gazing at his land. It was said that doing so calmed him down when he was in one of his more wrathful moods. On the fateful day the horse comes back alone and a search party finds de Lench stabbed to death. His family was certainly not a happy one. Baldwin, his son by his first wife (who died in a mysterious riding accident) has the same choleric temper as his father. There is a second son - the result of de Lench marrying again, but Hamo is very different from his half brother. He is studious and solitary and probably has what we now call Asperger's Syndrome.

Incidentally, there are three real-life villages near Worcester which rejoice under the names Church Lench, Ab Lench and Rous Lench, but I believe Osbern de Lench exists only in Sarah Hawkwood's vivid and blessed imagination. Back to the novel, and Bradecote & Catchpoll learn that de Lench had 'history' with other local landowners, but was this enough to link any of them to his death? And was Fulk, the family Steward providing home comforts to Lady de Lench, a woman not unused to being roughly dealt with by her husband? The seemingly pointless murder of Mother Winflaed, a harmless woman who ministers to the villagers with her herbal knowledge - and also delivers its babies - only adds to the confusion.

The ingredients that make up the chemistry between the three investigators is cleverly worked. Young Walkelin is callow, but clever and inquisitive, while Catchpoll's world-wearness is an excellent counter balance to Bradecote's more lofty idealism.

By no means is this a preachy or political novel, but Sarah Hawkswood has some pertinent points to make - via Hugh Bradecote - about the treatment and role of women, and the very real perils of childbirth. As a man of advanced years I can find much to moan about in current society, but modern obstetrics (at least in the western world) is something for which we should all be eternally grateful.

I am very much an amateur book reviewer, and there are probably hundreds of us who love to read, and are grateful for publishers and publicists who trust us to deal fairly with the books they send us. One of the downsides is that there is always a To Be Read pile, with deadlines to meet, and little chance to sit back and read purely for pleasure. I am determined, however, to find time to catch up with the previous books in this series. If they are all as good as this one, then my time will not be wasted

 This novel is thoroughly immersive and the blend of classic whodunnit, gritty historical detail and a sense of a glorious landscape now all but vanished is utterly beguiling. Blood Runs Thicker is published by Allison & Busby, and is available now.
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My thanks to the Author publishers and NetGalley for providing me with a Kindle version of this book to read and honestly review.
This is the eighth book in this series but i was not aware of this and the book read perfectly as a standalone story. Well written and with a real feel and atmosphere of the setting and time. Quality engaging characters an absorbing intriguing read from start to finish, but not the greatest mystery I have ever read with little in the way of shock surprising twists.
Recommended.
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A Blood Runs Thicker is the first book I've read by Sarah Hawkswood.

I confess, I struggled a little with the 'ye olde wordy' language and speech but soon became accustomed to it, and could settle into the mystery.

The story quickly gathers pace, and I was drawn into the mystery. The characters are well-sketched, and the interactions between Bradecote, Catchpoll and Walkelin lighten the narrative.

And the resolution of the mystery is deliciously complex and thoroughly enjoyable. I'll certainly be reading more of this series.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for my review copy.
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