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26 December 2017
Review: THE LAST HOURS, Minette Walters
The setting is Develish, Dorseteshire 1348. Sir Richard of Develish is off to Bradmayne, two days’ ride away to make final arrangements for the marriage of his 14 year old daughter Eleanor to Peter of Bradmayne. Sir Richard is taking with him a dowry of gold and other goods. However Eleanor is resentful of the marriage.
While Sir Richard is away a message comes to Lady Anne at Develish that a pestilence has struck neighbouring villages and towns. News of the pestilence reaches Sir Richard in Bradmayne and he decides to ride home. But he is already too late, and becomes ill on the ride home. When he gets back to Develish Lady Anne has burnt the bridge across the moat that surrounds his castle, and she refuses to allow him entrance.
When Sir Richard left he took with him some of his most trusted men and Lady Anne has appointed another, Thaddeus Thurkell, to help her manage the estate. In the face of the pestilence she has brought all of the serfs into the grounds of the castle. As time passes they await news from outside that the pestilence has passed and inside the castle life becomes difficult and people become bored. Resentments run high although most believe Lady Anne has done the right thing. However her daughter Eleanor resents the fact that her mother would not let her father back into the castle and tries to stir up trouble particularly for Thaddeus Thurkell.
The death of one of Thaddeus’s half brothers while he was supposed to be on guard duty leads to Thaddeus leaving the castle, taking five young serfs with him, ostensibly in search of food. Supplies in the castle are rapidly dwindling. Their journey leads to a better understanding of how the plague spreads.
An intriguing, long awaited, novel from Minette Walters, more historical than crime fiction.
At the end of the e-book is an extract from a sequel, to be published in October 2018.
My Rating: 4.6