Servant of Death

Written by Sarah Hawkswood
Review by Lisa Redmond

Servant of Death was previously published as The Lord Bishop’s Clerk and is now available in paperback for the first time. It is the first mystery in the Bradecote and Catchpoll series. Hugh Bradecote is temporarily raised to the position of undersheriff by the Sheriff of Worcestershire when the body of a murdered man is discovered at Pershore Abbey. Bradecote must work side by side with the gruff and well-seasoned Serjeant Catchpoll and the desire to prove himself worthy of the appointment and the irritation of Catchpoll’s condescending manner and unsubtle methods cause as much consternation, soul searching and headaches as does the search for the murderer.

There are plenty of suspects. The victim, Eudo, the Lord Bishop of Winchester’s clerk, was hated and feared in equal measure, and the author establishes the cast of possible suspects with great detail in the opening chapters. As each character is introduced we also learn details of the various strata of medieval society, which makes for fascinating reading, but it does cause a slight delay to the introduction of the two investigators. When the pair finally get to work and begin to question all who may have had opportunity and motivation to attack Eudo, that is when the pace of the story really picks up and the author’s talent for character and plot shine forth. This is a well-written murder mystery, well-researched, full of interesting characters and a great start to the series. A perfect choice for fans of Ellis Peters, Karen Maitland and Paul Doherty.