Trouble, and its attendant duties, confront the reluctant young lord on nearly every page of this eventful, engrossing, informative mystery set in mid-14th-century Kent.
The whodunnit aspect is neatly done, the family secrets and waspish relationships are intriguing, and humour and originality are abundant.
Sykes's debut provides everything a reader would want in a historical mystery: a gripping plot, vivid language, living and breathing characters, and an immersive depiction of the past.
There's a nice, cliché-free sharpness to Sykes' writing . . . that suggests a medieval Raymond Chandler at work, and there are no phony celebrations of the peasantry or earth-mothers thrusting herbal concoctions down grateful throats. Plenty of action and interesting characters, without intervention of the libertarian modern conscience that so often wrecks the medieval historical novel.
Sykes establishes herself firmly as a major talent.
Praise for PLAGUE LAND
Comparisons to the master of historical crime, CJ Sansom, are inevitable and, in this case, justified.
The medieval CJ Sansom
Sykes has really reset the bar for medieval mysteries . . . every clue brings with it unexpected twists and turns. When you think you know who the killer is, you're slapped with yet another surprise.
PLAGUE LAND is a fascinating historical crime novel about a world turned upside down, inhabited by a rich cast of characters. A terrific debut and a wonderful start to a brand-new series.