Hostage to Fortune (Bradecote & Catchpoll)

Written by Sarah Hawkswood
Review by Nicky Moxey

It’s the time of the Anarchy in 1144; Bradecote is now a wet-behind-the-ears undersheriff, and Catchpoll is the experienced Serjeant tasked with babysitting him. To go with his promotion, Bradecote has permission to marry the love of his life, Christina; but first, she wants to go on pilgrimage to ask for a fruitful union. She’ll be safe as houses on her own, she’ll be travelling with a party of monks. It should all be straightforward, except that a sadist with a hatred of Benedictines has recently got bored with stirring up chaos in France and has brought his band over to England to try a spot of forgery. Hugh has to find Christina whilst she is still whole, physically and mentally…

Generally speaking, murder mystery is not my favourite genre; I find they can sometimes be a little formulaic. However, I’d come across this series and this author before – Hostage to Fortune is the 4th book in the Bradecote and Catchpoll series, so I was looking forward to it. I wasn’t disappointed. The plot tears along without a hint of formula, and the characters are sympathetically drawn and believable. The author’s historical background shines through – this is one of my favourite eras of history, and I’m picky about the detail; this is flawless, nuanced, rich. If you’re looking for something reminiscent of the Ellis Peters books, but in a lay context and therefore with the opportunity for strong female leads, you’ll enjoy this. And of course the others in the series!