About The Book:
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
It is August, 1645, one year since York fell into Puritan hands. As the city suffers through a brutal summer heat, Bridget Hodgson and Martha Hawkins are drawn into a murder investigation more frightening than their last. In order to appease God’s wrath—and end the heat-wave—the city’s overlords have launched a brutal campaign to whip the city’s sinners into godliness. But for someone in York, whipping is not enough. First a prostitute and her client are found stabbed to death, then a pair of adulterers are beaten and strangled. York’s sinners have been targeted for execution.
Bridget and Martha—assisted once again by Will, Bridget’s good-hearted nephew—race to find the killer even as he adds more bodies to his tally. The list of suspects is long: Hezekiah Ward, a fire and brimstone preacher new to York; Ward’s son, Praise-God, whose intensity mirrors his father’s; John Stubb, one of Ward’s fanatic followers, whose taste for blood may not have been sated by his time in Parliament’s armies. Or could the killer be closer to home? Will’s brother Joseph is no stranger to death, and he shares the Wards’ dreams of driving sin from the city.
To find the killer, Bridget, Martha, and Will must uncover the city’s most secret sins, and hope against hope that the killer does not turn his attention in their direction.
I realize that this is going to sound very sexist of me, but I find it utterly fascinating that a man can write a novel that revolves around a cast of mainly women characters and with a plot line that centers on the skill of midwifery and do so with the skill and mastery as author Sam Thomas.
In his second book in the "Midwife Mystery" series, "The Harlot's Tale," Thomas takes his readers back to 17th century England to the town of York, where the fanatically religious have taken over the town and any and everyone is suspect to evil doings.
Midwife Lady Bridget Hodgson and her assistant Martha primarily go about their duties delivering the babies of the town, but frequently they are called upon to witness and examine the deaths of the unfortunate. (It's a horrible job, but one that goes along with being a midwife in those days.) Now, in the midst of a raging heat wave, someone is going about make a religious statement by killing some of the harlots and their companions and it falls upon Bridget and her friends to find out who is doing these unspeakable deeds and stop them before the entire town is swept up in the fevered frenzy of fear.
Thomas does a wonderful job of setting the stage for this intriguing mystery, leading the reader through the twists and turns, and ultimate surprises that make this such an enjoyable novel to read. Plus he adds in historical facts that educate as well as entertain the reader. Thomas' characters are so interesting - the wise, curious and brave Lady Bridget is a great heroine (who was a real-life 17th century midwife), and her sassy sidekick Martha keeps the action moving along at a lively pace. Even the secondary characters - Bridget's smart, but vulnerable nephew Will, the adorable scamp Tree, and spunky dwarf jailer Samuel Short - are so personable and add to the overall story.
Fans of historical fiction with a generous dose of mystery will find this novel a great addition to Thomas' series, but it can also be easily read as a stand-alone novel as well.
And for those who want just a bit more of the "Midwife Mysteries" there is the novella, "The Maidservant and The Murderer," that gives a little more insight into this series.
I highly recommend "The Harlot's Tale" - I enjoyed it immensely.
About The Author:
Sam Thomas is an assistant professor of history at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He has received research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Newberry Library, and the British Academy. He has published articles on topics ranging from early modern Britain to colonial Africa. Thomas lives in Alabama with his wife and two children.
For more information, please visit Sam Thomas’ website and blog. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Virtual Book Tour ScheduleMonday, January 6
Review at Unabridged Chick
Review at Words and Peace
Tuesday, January 7
Review at A Bookish Affair
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, January 8
Review at Broken Teepee
Interview at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, January 9
Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Monday, January 13
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Tuesday, January 14
Review at Impressions in Ink
Interview & Giveaway at A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, January 15
Review at Book of Secrets
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Thursday, January 16
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, January 17
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Monday, January 20
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, January 21
Review at The Most Happy Reader
Wednesday, January 22
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Interview at The Most Happy Reader
Thursday, January 23
Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Friday, January 24
Review at The Musings of ALMYBNENR
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
My thanks to Historical Fiction Book Tours for including me on this tour and for providing the review copy of this book.
I was not compensated for my opinion.