The Harlot’s Tale
As a historical novel, The Harlot’s Tale is a great success. Set in the English Civil Wars, we see the political change as York goes from Royalist to Parliamentarian. Because this is also a shift in the prevailing expectations of mortality, local people must drink less and fornicate more discreetly. Our heroine is one of the city’s midwives and, with her brother-in-law one of the senior politicians, she’s well placed to collect secrets and, if necessary, solve crimes.
This time we have a Hellfire serial killer who singles out prostitutes and adulterers for termination with extreme prejudice. With biblical references pushed into the victims’ hands, this is an early version of the movie Se7en. With such a rich historical background, I wanted to like this but found the mystery element thin. The author has only given us one small group of outsiders to York and one possible local to consider as suspects. Given such a small pool to pick from, it’s not difficult to work out who the killer is, nor what the motive is. This is not to say the book is a complete loss. The background on midwifery is fascinating and includes an interesting moral dilemma for our heroine to confront.
|Page Count||320 pages|
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|Category||Mystery, Crime, Thriller|