The Lord Bishop’s Clerk

Written by Sarah Hawkswood
Review by Sarah Brooks

On a summer’s day in June 1143, murder makes a visit to the Abbey of Pershore in Worcestershire, England. The abbey rests at the crossroads of a highly trafficked area and often provides overnight lodging for travelers. The first victim is the loathed-by-all Eudo, clerk to the Lord Bishop, Henri de Blois, brother of Stephen, King of England.

Sarah Hawkswood brings to life a medieval abbey run by Benedictine monks whose hospitality is well known, as seen by the amount of visitors stopping over on this June night. Amazingly, all of the travelers knew Eudo and had unsettling experiences with him in the past. These grievances set the plot in motion, and it is the last group of visitors for the night, the High Sheriff of Worcestershire and his associates, who must solve the crime. The Sheriff appoints Lord Bradecote and Serjeant Catchpoll to lead the investigation, and these two men are not the best of friends in good times.

The novel can appear overwhelming with the number of suspects that Bradecote and Catchpoll must interview, but they all have credible motives for wanting Eudo dead. Just when Bradecote and Catchpoll (and the reader) believe they have the right suspect in custody, murder returns for more victims, and the poor brothers of the abbey must leave their farm work for burial detail.

This convincing medieval murder mystery is set during a time of rivalry for the English throne by William the Conqueror’s grandchildren, and Hawkswood leaves the reader guessing to the well-written end.