The people of York are already suffering from the sweltering summer of 1645 when, suddenly, a serial killer adds to their woes.
It’s been a year since York fell into Puritan hands. While the civil war rages on in other places, the godly are trying to make York into a model city. Wealthy gentlewoman and midwife Bridget Hodgson and her assistant, Martha Hawkins, go about their business and keep quiet, although neither approves of Puritan rule. Encouraged by her success in helping to solve a murder the year before (The Midwife’s Tale, 2013), Bridget’s politically powerful, Puritan brother-in-law calls on her skills when a prostitute and her client are found brutally butchered with Bible verses in hand. Hezekiah Ward has recently arrived in York, and his fiery sermons reviling sinners have earned him a fanatical following, among them his wife, their son, Praise-God, and a number of dangerous former Puritan soldiers. So there’s no dearth of suspects for the murder, including one uncomfortably close to home. Bridget often gets help from her nephew, Will, whose physical disability has always placed him below his brother Joseph in his father’s affections. As a soldier, Joseph has often killed, and he’s fanatical about ridding York of sinners—exactly the profile that makes him an obvious suspect. As the killings continue, Bridget does everything in her power to discover the killer from among far too many candidates.
The second adventure for Thomas’ midwife uses a mystery with plenty of twists, turns and suspects to illuminate a difficult period in British history.