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The Red Hill

(Thomas Berrington #1)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,715 ratings  ·  135 reviews
A killer who can’t be stopped. A request that can’t be refused.

In 1482 the Englishman Thomas Berrington is living in the last remnants of Moorish Spain. A physician, he is an unwilling friend to the most powerful man in the kingdom. When bodies start to turn up, each showing the marks of a savage attack, Thomas is asked to investigate.

When one of the Sultan’s wives is brut
Kindle Edition, 382 pages
Published June 27th 2014 by Amazon Digital Services (first published June 1st 2014)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,715 ratings  ·  135 reviews

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Feb 29, 2016 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book, but didn't love it.

The historical setting is superb, with the general mood and light well conveyed. Very few references to actual historical events, but that fitted with the book. Marred by the fact that the presence of corridors in the alhambra seems rather incredible.

The choice of characters was appealing: the two main are interesting and intriguing, as are many of the supporting cast.

The plot was less convincing. The investigation seemed to move forward hapzardly. Thomas
R.J. Lynch
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Tom Berrington, surgeon and one-time warrior, is from a north European country (never named but probably England) but has lived in Andalucia for many years and presents his story of murder and intrigue from a point of view steeped in Islam. It is the late fifteenth century and the Islamic hold on Spain is loosening but not yet broken. The task of the writer of historical fiction is to make us believe everything we read, while we’re reading it. David Penny achieves this better than most. This is ...more
Peter A
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As I have written in other reviews, in addition to the “mystery” in a book, mysteries can have a strong place of location. Furthermore, the challenges of solving a mystery can be increased by the overall environment or timing of the action. For example, there is a great deal of difference between say a “Midsomer Murder” or “Morse/Lewis” on the one hand and “Folye’s War” on the other. In the former, life is “calm” in the big picture, yet there are many local issues that drive the rationale; in th ...more
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book while vacationing in the Albaycin area of Granada gazing out the window at the Alhambra, the very setting of this 15th century Moorish mystery. I almost didn't read it past the rather gory first chapter, but I'm so glad I did. It was fast paced, the characters were masterfully drawn, and the plot intelligent drawing on the history of the area preceding the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. There were a few places in the book that gave me pause in my reading pleasure, but generall ...more
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Solid first book in a series following ex-pat English physician Berrington during the final years of Moorish Grenada. Being favored by the Sultan is not actually a positive, and Thomas must solve a series of brutal murders in the palace, and negotiate the highly political life in the kingdom, as an outsider. Cool setting, good characters, and action, check it out.
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical
OK plot, but I must admit to solving it long, long before Thomas, won't be getting book 2
Richard Myers
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book

This is a very well written who done it novel with great characters. Thomas Berrington ranks up there with all the other great detectives. A great book that I highly recommend. Now excuse me while I go and buy more of this book series.
Sep 30, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Red Hill Thomas Berrington Book 1
David Penny
British physician Thomas Berrington is in the service of the Sultan in Moorish Spain. He plies his surgeons trade treating the royal family and wounded warriors all the while gaining the sultan’s trust. When the sultan asks him to investigate a series of strange and violent murders of women within the palace he cannot refuse. Thomas must contend with court intrigue but when one of the sultan’s pregnant wives is killed, what began as an onerous task
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: mystery fans
I received this book free, from Story Cartel, for a review.

This book immersed me, so deeply, into life of Thomas, I felt I was along side of him. The characters were beautifully written, the scenery was quite descriptive and even some of the scents came through.

The mystery in this book is full of twists, thrills and betrayal. The journey of Thomas is so intriguing, I had a hard time putting it down. I enjoyed this book so much, that it is going on my favorites list. I will be reading more of Dav
Si Haithwaite
Sep 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is one of those crime novels that encapsulates what's great about the genre. It delivers on great plotting and execution while also educating the reader on a period and place I personally had no prior knowledge of. David has also managed to avoid the obvious pitfalls of shoving research down the readers throat (in order to prove they have done the due diligence) and instead weaves wonderful historical information into a story that is fundamentally about great characters and an exceptional n ...more
Dec 18, 2017 rated it liked it
An interesting historical mystery that is different enough to make it memorable, however, i struggled to like several of the main characters in the book and i felt the last few chapters actually lost the tension that had built up rather than increased it as it should have. There is a certain amount of visual style in the book and the setting was vividly brought to life. I will continue with the series at some point but it certainly isnt good enough to make me want to binge read the set!
David Oliver
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyable. And it's the first in a series!
Markus H
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting An area I've no idea of. A gripping tale, interesting characters. A time I'm nor very knowledgeable about. And most of all a very interesting mystery. Hist fic at it's best. Highly recommended
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another eunuch detective! Jorge al-Andalus, born in Qurtuba ("the Moorish pronunication"), remains friends with the physician who castrated him, Thomas, and the two of them have to figure out some stuff despite the antagonism of the Sultan.
Kate Vane
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Red Hill is the first in a planned ten-part series which covers the decade leading up to the fall of Granada to Isabel and Fernando (or Isabella and Ferdinand) in 1492. Thomas Berrington is an Englishman with a complex backstory, some of which is revealed in this book. He is an accomplished surgeon, equally in demand on the battlefield and at court. When the Sultan asks him to investigate a series of murders, he would rather continue with his surgical work, but how do you refuse a man who ca ...more
Joseph Finley
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Red Hill" by David Penny, is among the best medieval mysteries I’ve read this year. Set in the fifteenth century, the mystery involves a series of murders within the harem of the Alhambra, the massive medieval palace of the sultan of Granada. The few witnesses to the attacks believe the killer to a djinn, a spirit of the air who appears out of nowhere wielding a deadly blade. With the sultan’s wives a potential target, the sultan enlists his private surgeon, Thomas Berrington, to solve the ...more
Patrick O'Callaghan
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really more 3.5 but I'm feeling generous. An historical mystery in an interesting setting (the Alhambra and Granada during the 15th century "reconquista"). The protagonist is an English one-time mercenary now practising as a physician in the Sultan's court. Several murders take place in the harem, but the motive is unclear and the hero is charged with investigating, however the mystery element is really just a motor to drive the narrative and isn't that interesting in itself. Indeed the solution ...more
J.A. McLachlan
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a great read. Set in Moorish Spain in the 15th Century ( an interesting divergence from the usual medieval settings of England or Christian Europe) it is part historical fiction, part mystery, part thriller and even features the beginning of a romance (which is the best part of any romance) that I expect will play out in future books in this series. There are two main characters who couldn't be more different--an uprooted English soldier-turned-surgeon and a Spanish eunich from the sult ...more
Nina Silva
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The palace intrigue is intense. The slightest error or a perception of insult could result in death. Thomas and Jorge find their investigation hindered by religious, cultural and political accoutrements. A foreign surgeon and a palace eunuch must know their places, even when tasked by the Sultan to find a murderer. This story gripped my attention even while I happily lost myself in 15th century Moorish Spain, exploring the world described by David Penny.

Somethings I really liked:
• The city of
Helen Hollick
Apr 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1482. English surgeon, Thomas Berrington, has adopted Islam because it is a more practical faith for himself and his work in Muslim-occupied Spain. He has his own back story which we learn about as we read on, but his life becomes complicated when there is a murder and he gets the task of discovering ‘who did it’.

Berrington’s ‘sidekick’ is Jorge, a eunuch, two very opposite, complex characters which gives them both depth and interest for the reader. There are some cruel, violent and explicit sce
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Red Hill is the first book in a mystery series by David Penny. It takes place in 1482 in Turkey I suppose as the lad is ruled by the Moors and they are fighting over land with the Spanish. The main character, Thomas Berington is white and from England, and has settled in Moorish Spain. The rest of the characters are predominantly Muslim and of darker skin tone, though there are some Scandenavian-esque sounding characters.

Murders take place within the palace, and the Sultan asks Thomas to pe
Joanne Fish
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent intrigue

An interesting but Troubled man task to do do something other than being a doctor. And so he pursues the quest that is given to him by the sultan and what follows is Twist turns and much intrigue it is also a historical look into the time the Moors settled parts of Spain. I really wasn't sure until almost the end who was the guilty party and it was a pleasant surprise because I couldn't guess it so this book had I also love the character development in the story and I am going
Aug 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Thomas Berrington is an English physician working at the court of the Moorish sultan on the Iberian Peninsula. When a series of murders occur in the sultan's harem, Thomas is given the task of discovering what is going on. Then, when the Sultana is murdered, Thomas is at first suspected, even though he saves the life of her unborn child. The details of life in fifteenth century Moorish Spain are enlightening. Thomas is an enigmatic and effective sleuth and his attitude towards healing the sick a ...more
Victoria Kosky
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Who would have imagined you could have a murder mystery in Moorish Spain? David Penny has bravely established himself in the historical genre with painstaking research and imagination. The Red Hill has all the components of a good-read: an intricate, non-predictable plot, authentic characters suited to the time-period, snippets of history that take you back to a time of war, sultans and harems. The main protagonist, Thomas Berrington, is an English physician in the midst of this chaos and opulen ...more
Donn Headley
May 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Interesting story, very vibrant portrait of the time and place. However, it is all too long by at least a third. The author needs to learn from the masters: balance the authentic clues with the number of red herrings that are placed to distract or mislead the reader. The latter overwhelm the story right to the very end, as though the author was deliberately padding his novel with ill-fitting contrivances. Finally, while the protagonist is intriguing as a man both of science and the battlefield, ...more
Cindy Woods
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing

This is a definite page-turner. The plot is original and characters are well described and developed. The Englishman, Thomas Berringer is a surgeon with a background he wishes to forget who serves a sultan in the mideast. He is at the beck and call of a tyrannical ruler who wields power erratically.
This is the first book of a series, which I definitely plan to read the next books.
I recommend to readers of historical fiction who like action and a mystery to solve within the Sultan's ha
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018, own
Thomas Berrington, an English surgeon in the service of the Sultan of Granada in late 15th century Moorish Spain, is ordered with solving the murders of two servant girls inside the palace - a task he is reluctant to accept but cannot refuse. The stakes rise immensely when one of the Sultan's wives too falls victim to the killer.

Atmospheric, well written, containing taut suspense and intriguing twists, and featuring interesting, well-rounded characters - just how I like my historical fiction. An
Neil Harmon
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked this book. The setting and time are interesting and looking at a series of events from the Moorish point of view rather than the Christian one made the story even more interesting. The Alhambra palace is famous as the place where Columbus met with Ferdinand and Isabella and it is interesting to see how different things might have been only a few years earlier when the Moors controlled the south of Spain. It is hard to comment on how realistic this is but it was a good setting and an inte ...more
Victoria Pinto Rivas
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have to say that this book somehow reminded me so much of Umberto Eco's The name of the rose. Maybe it is due that I was reading it along with this book.

Interesting setting, some interesting characters (including the main one) and, I have to say, I didn't expect that last-minute twist at the end, when we learn who was the master of the killer.

Hope to read the other books of the saga soon!

P.s: Pronto estará disponible en el blog la versión española de este review sin spoilers y en Steemit con
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Born in London in 1950, David Penny began writing at a tender age after moving to Mid Wales. Initially obsessed with all things science-fiction he read avidly and wrote even more. His first publications came at the age of seventeen in small fanzines. At the age of twenty-three a short story was accepted by Galaxy magazine – his first payment for writing. This was followed by appearances in the UK ...more

Other books in the series

Thomas Berrington (8 books)
  • Breaker of Bones (Thomas Berrington #2)
  • The Sin Eater (Thomas Berrington, #3)
  • The Incubus (Thomas Berrington, #4)
  • The Inquisitor (Thomas Berrington #5)
  • The Fortunate Dead (Thomas Berrington #6)
  • The Promise of Pain (Thomas Berrington #7)
  • The Message of Blood (Thomas Berrington #8)

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