Reviewed under original title 'The Lord Bishop's Clerk'
"Sarah Hawkswood’s superb debut ... Hawkswood’s previous work has been as a military historian – and how it shows with magnificent attention to period detail bringing 12th century Pershore and abbey life to the page in almost a scenic way … All-in-all this is a clever, very well written and extremely enjoyable murder mystery. I absolutely loved it!" Crime Review
"This convincing medieval murder mystery is set during a time of rivalry for the English throne by William the Conqueror’s grandchildren, and Hawkswood leaves the reader guessing to the well-written end." Historical Novel Society
"... possibly the most easy to read historical mystery of the year. Whether it’s action, reflection, deep personal feelings, description or even repeated gossip, her elegant and carefully chosen prose keep you glued to the page. She creates a medieval world of her own – and drags the reader deeply into it ... This is as much a tale of personalities, relationships and ambitions as it is of murder and Hawkswood’s ability to bring even her most minor characters to vivid and realistic life gives it a must-read quality. It will be interesting to see how these characters develop through the series." Crime Review
"The author’s detailed research is obvious without ever overwhelming the narrative, and the details of everyday life in medieval Worcester provide fascinating background and the hint of many future outings for the duo. Ordeal by Fire is an ideal choice for fans of Ariana Franklin, Peter Tremayne and S.D. Sykes." Historical Novel Society
"Ordeal by Fire does not flinch from describing the ugly reality of life in the 12th Century: families left destitute when their businesses are destroyed, healthy young women dying in childbirth, orphaned girls being forced into prostitution to feed younger siblings and the ugly prejudice that will let a Jewish man’s house burn while no-one in the crowd lifts a finger to aid him.
I found the characters and description of medieval life in Ordeal by Fire thoroughly engaging and the book is beautifully written. I would whole-heartedly recommend it. A page-turner." Mystery People
"If you like Ellis Peter’s excellent Cadfael books, you’re sure to enjoy this. The research and writing is first class, but what I feel truly gives it an edge is the dynamic between Bradecote and Catchpoll, readers will really take to them." Destructive Music
Myshelf.com - In Rachel A Hyde's Top 10 books of the year.
Marked to Die is the latest- and best- chronicle of Sarah Hawkswood's books featuring two very realistic and likeable characters: the 12th century detective duo of Bradecote and Catchpoll ... This medieval procedural charms its way past all obstacles. Whether it's action, reflection, personal feelings, simple, but vivid, description, humour, or even repeated gossip, Hawkswood's elegant prose will keep you turning the pages. Her ability to bring even the most minor characters to life in a credible and well-researched setting gives this story a must-read quality. John Cleal - Crime Review
It is an excellent series with thoroughly likeable characters and it is especially enjoyable to follow the way the two leading protagonists' relationship has developed into a mutual respect underpinned by a dry humour. The historical background is totally convincing and the author shows great skill in illustrating the harshness and ruthlessness of the period.
Carol Westron - Mystery People
The story unravels with many twists and turns and, in doing so, describes the way of life in the 12th century. The characters are well developed, and the many dead ends keep the reader's interest and the pages turning.
Historical Novel Society
One of the best histmyst series around right now that reminds readers how good this type of thing can be when played straight with likeable characters and a really involving plot. Highly recommended.
Rachel A Hyde - MyShelf.com
The medieval environment is carefully crafted ... there's lot of careful research and love and attention gone into this book - a fair and funny plot with a unique band of characters and an illuminating view into the life of another time.
Fans of historical mysteries, especially Ellis Peters' Cadfael series, Ariana Franklin's Mistress of Death series and Bernard Knight's Crowner John, will find much to enjoy here - as indeed will anyone with a fondness for a good mystery in a well realised setting.
The Shelf of Unread Books
Sarah Hawkswood has a lovely, easy to read writing style . . . Definitely one for the historical crime novel fans.