The Witch Hunter’s Tale is the third book in Sam Thomas’ mystery series set in York, England during the English Civil War of the 1640s. Midwife Bridget Hodgson solves mysteries with the help of her clever assistant Martha, who was a thief before she became a midwife’s assistant, and Bridget’s nephew Will, who was born with a club foot and whose father rejected him. There is a developing romance between Martha and Will. In The Witch Hunter’s Tale, York is experiencing a bitterly cold winter. Will’s estranged brother Joseph, a zealous Puritan, is in a prominent position on the city council, and he blames the brutal winter on witches and calls for a witch hunt. Bridget’s enemy, Rebecca Hooke, helps him in the witch hunt, examining women’s bodies for witches’ marks. Rebecca had been a midwife, but Bridget caused her to lose her license because she was harming the women she came to help, and now Rebecca wants revenge. When the only city councilman opposed to the witch hunt is found murdered shortly after a visit from Bridget, Will, and Martha, Will is accused of the crime. Can Bridget save him before she, or someone close to her, is accused of witchcraft?
The series includes fascinating details about midwifery. Many of the births Bridget attends are harrowing. The character is based on a real midwife named Bridget Hodgson, but many of the details of her life are fictionalized in the series. Thomas, who was a historian before he began the series, writes about the real Bridget Hodgson at his website. On a personal note, I recently met him, along with several other authors of historical mysteries, at a panel discussion at the Ann Arbor District Library.
The Witch Hunter's Tale is available from the Browsing Collection at the Shapiro Undergraduate Library or from the Hatcher Graduate Library. One of Thomas' historical works, Creating Communities in Restoration England, can also be checked out from the Hatcher Graduate Library.