Sam Thomas – The Midwife’s Tale (Die Hebamme und das Rätsel von York)

© Minotaur Books

Blurb:

It is 1644, and Parliament’s armies have risen against the King and laid siege to the city of York. Even as the city suffers at the rebels’ hands, midwife Bridget Hodgson becomes embroiled in a different sort of rebellion. One of Bridget’s friends, Esther Cooper, has been convicted of murdering her husband and sentenced to be burnt alive. Convinced that her friend is innocent, Bridget sets out to find the real killer.
Bridget joins forces with Martha Hawkins, a servant who’s far more skilled with a knife than any respectable woman ought to be. To save Esther from the stake, they must dodge rebel artillery, confront a murderous figure from Martha’s past, and capture a brutal killer who will stop at nothing to cover his tracks. The investigation takes Bridget and Martha from the homes of the city’s most powerful families to the alleyways of its poorest neighborhoods. As they delve into the life of Esther’s murdered husband, they discover that his ostentatious Puritanism hid a deeply sinister secret life, and that far too often tyranny and treason go hand in hand. (Amazon)

In (Very) Short:

+ historical crime novel set in 17th century York
+ well-paced, interesting and relatable characters
+ story full of murder, conspiracy, and revenge

My Opinion:

Since I did not seem to have the patience to sit down and read, listening to audiobooks increased quite a bit on the past months. I was able to still do other things (e.g. sport, housework etc.) while an audiobook was playing in the background. Somehow it was easier for me to concentrate. Weird as that may be. Lately, I start to prefer historical novels. Maybe because reading those long descriptions might not be my thing at the moment, but when I listen to them they appear way more interesting. Again I listen to most of my audiobooks in German, but since the physical book is also available in English, I will review this in English.

The Midwife’s Tale seemed to be more of a murder mystery in 17th century York. Bridget Hodgson is one of the midwives of York, and after we get to know a little bit about her story and life, her friend Esther Cooper is arrested for the murder of her husband. Bridget does not believe that her friend committed the crime, so she starts to investigate with the help of her new maid Martha. During her investigation she uncovers dark and dirty secrets that not only threaten her life, but the safety of the city. The murderer stops at nothing to cover his/her tracks and to top it all of Martha’s past seems to catch up to her and threaten her and her mistress’ life in the process.

It was a really entertaining and thrilling book. Many people wanted to stop Bridget from further investigating because she would uncover and expose secrets. There seemed to be a murderer around every corner. The story was well-paced, the characters were nicely developed still leaving some mystery. I appreciated that Bridget was scared and not the perfect heroine, I thoroughly enjoyed her rivalry with another/former midwife. I also liked her compassion for others. Martha and Bridget’s nephew were good and capable sidekicks that either lightened the mood or driven the action within the story.

The writing was fluent and historical facts seeped through without dominating or overpowering the story. Yet I would not have minded a little more. I still remember some historical facts from my studies, but then again I do get older and tend to forget things. Thus, I would have enjoyed a few more details. But again one can look them up, if one is interested.

The narrator was German so I can only speak for this version of the audiobook, but I really enjoyed Dana Geissler. Her reading was flawless and she drew me in right from the start.

Bottom Line:

A very good historical crime novel filled with murder, conspiracy, and revenge.

Rating:

rating 4

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