A determined midwife must solve a murder to save a friend from a horrible end.
England, 1664. Now that Parliament’s armies are attacking areas loyal to the king, the northern city of York is under siege. Wealthy widow Bridget Hodgson, proud of her skills as a midwife, prefers working to sitting around leading the quiet life of a lady. She has no intention of turning detective until her friend Esther Cooper’s husband, an outspoken Puritan who treated his wife badly, is found dead and poison is discovered hidden in Esther’s room. The hapless widow is swiftly and illegally tried, convicted and sentenced to burn at the stake. Bridget, ignoring threats from the authorities, declares Esther pregnant, forestalling her demise. Although her well-connected family pushes Bridget to drop the matter, her new servant, Martha Hawkins, has unusual skills that make her a big help. When Bridget and Martha are attacked by an inebriated soldier, Martha skillfully dispatches him, and Bridget hires guards to protect her house and has her nephew accompany them when they travel the city. As Bridget goes about her business, she picks up gossip, becomes involved in a case of infanticide and haunts the apothecaries looking for the source of the poison. She senses that more than one person would like to see her dead but remains grimly determined to find the real killer.
Historian Thomas’ fiction debut is packed with fascinating information about a midwife’s skills and life during the English civil war. The ingenious, fast-paced mystery is a bonus.