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Plague land - S D Sykes

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Plague land
S D Sykes
Hodder & Stoughton
UK Publication Date

Oswald de Lacy was never meant to be the Lord of Somerhill Manor. Despatched to a monastery at the age of seven, sent back at seventeen when his father and two older brothers are killed by thePlague, Oswald has no experience of running an estate.
He finds the years of pestilence and neglect have changed the old place dramatically, not to mention the attitude of the surviving peasants.
Yet some things never change. Oswald's mother remains the powerful matriarch of the family, and his sister Clemence simmers in the background, dangerous and unmarried.
Before he can do anything, Oswald is confronted by the shocking death of a young woman, Alison Starvecrow. The ambitious village priest claims that Alison was killed by a band of demonic dog-headed men. Oswald is certain this is nonsense, but proving it - by finding the real murderer - is quite a different matter.
Every step he takes seems to lead Oswald deeper into a dark maze of political intrigue, family secrets and violent strife.
And then the body of another girl is found.
SD Sykes brilliantly evokes the landscape and people of medieval Kent in this thrillingly suspenseful debut.

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SD Sykes lives in Kent with her family and various animals. She has done everything from professional dog-walking to co-founding her own successful business. She is a graduate from Manchester University and has an MA in Writing from Sheffield Hallam. She attended the novel writing course at literary agents Curtis Brown where she was inspired to finish her first novel. She has also written for radio and has developed screenplays with Arts Council funding.

The medieval CJ Sansom
Jeffery Deaver

Sykes's damp, depopulated, miasmic Middle Ages is well evoked, making this an impressive debut with at least one sequel on the way.
The Herald, Scotland

A novel full of suspense and intrigue that will have you gripped.
Best magazine

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.
Antonia Hodgson, author of THE DEVIL IN THE MARSHALSEA

Plague Land is a gripping historical crime thriller, an engaging coming-of-age story and a richly textured evocation of 14th Century Kent. I was totally hooked.
Jake Woodhouse, author of The Amsterdam Quartet

There are plot twists aplenty . . . PLAGUE LAND is a quest to rebuild identity in an apocalyptic world, a theme that makes this new medieval series one I will be sure to follow.
Martine Bailey, author of An Appetite for Violets

If you're looking for a well written and engaging book set in the Middle Ages, or you happen to like thrillers, mysteries and "whodunnits", then this is your cup of tea. Sykes has really reset the bar for medieval mysteries. Throughout the book, 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.

The mystery is engaging and . . . I found the whole subject of the Plague and the feudal system fascinating. It's a period of history I wasn't familiar with but one I'd love to investigate further. This book fills the gap between the late Ariana Franklin and CJ Sansom and I look forward to reading more of the adventures of Oswald and company.
From First Page to Last

There's a nice, clich?-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.

Plague Land is an extraordinary debut novel - confident and clever, bringing the reader so close to the history it evokes . . . I found everything about Plague Land unputdownable as it immersed me so fully in the mid-14th century, carried along as I was by these excellent characters as well as by S.D. Sykes' wonderful writing. There is a lot going on in this book, all of it fully engaging - S.D. Sykes is to be congratulated. One of my top books of 2014 without doubt.
For Winter Nights

Plunges in to an atmosphere of squalor, superstition and horror . . . dark and disturbing, but is written so well that we are carried forward, eager to solve the enigmas. I do have to emphasize the skilful creating of medieval country life that folds us in dark evil-smelling, shadowy England. I truly lost all sense of time while reading it.

Sarah's ability to turn the tension up to eleven when she needs to means that we aren't shifting in our seats for long. Suspicions abound, one theory being very close to a Conan Doyle although we don't discover the truth until the end . . . It's dark and there's gore with a tone similar to Cadfael including moments of dry wit that bring unexpected smiles.
The Bookbag

A compelling murder mystery with a stark yet poetic style [and] a vivid sense of place.
Rebecca Mascull

Fascinating . . . This is as much a coming-of-age saga as crime thriller . . . This confident and rich evocation of medieval country life under a feudal system on the brink of collapse as the peasants slowly begin to realise their power bridges the historical gap between the work of the late Ariana Franklin and Tudor authors such as CJ Sansom . . . every clue brings an unexpected twist and you'll need a Holmesian brain to discover the killer before a clever, shattering - and entirely unexpected - denouement. This is a strong debut which brings the reader so close to the history it portrays, but written well and with such pace that it will constantly carry you forward.
Crime Review

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.
Publisher's Weekly

Hardback original
Keyword Index
Plague - England - History - Fiction.|Kent (England) - History - Fiction.|Great Britain - History - Edward III, 1327-1377 - Fiction.|Suspense fiction.
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