1348. The Black Death enters England through the port of Melcombe; the people of the county start to die in the thousands. In the demesne of Develish, Lady Anne takes control of her people's future, chooses a bastard slave, Thaddeus Thurkell, to act as her steward, and together they decide to quarantine Develish by bringing the serfs inside the walls. With this sudden overturning of the accepted social order, where serfs exist only to serve their lords, conflicts soon arise....
This appears to be the author’s first foray into historical ficition having published a string of imaginative and gripping crime novels. Judging by the present book she should stick to modern crime fiction. The Last Hours seemed to last more hours than needed as it is padded out with lots of tedious conversations among cardboard characters who are either good or bad with little nuance in their behaviour. The cliches of a wicked lord of the manor raping local women, abused wives and servants and the lord’s daughter who is a caricature of vanity and viciousness made for a tedious listen.
Buried in all the descriptive stuff are two slow stories with the backdrop of the Black Death decimating the country and the endeavours of the lady of the manor of Devlish to ward off the infection by quarantining the inhabitants. One thread is who killed one of the serfs and the second concerns whether the man leading a band of serfs searching for food outside the quarantine area will succeed and return free of the disease.
To my considerable annoyance having listened to all the above in ponderous detail the book ends abruptly, without any resolution of the two stories with the weasel words ‘to be continued’. What a con!
The narrator does a plucky job of injecting some life into the characters particularly the daughter of the wicked lord who is made even more of an evil bitch by the way her words are voiced.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
I loved the book but was dismayed to find it was just part 1 of 2.
Really enjoyed the story and its graphic portrayal of the Black Death effect on the population. Felt cheated as it became apparent the book was not going to come to a conclusion and another book will follow.
l have liked most of Minette Walters crime stories and was curious to see what she did with a different time and very different events. It was very enjoyable with rounded characters and a varied engaging storyline. my only criticism was that I did not realise that it was a story in instalments. So the end came as a surprise. I hope that the continuation will be as good.
I love this book . The characters the history and the story all made this book fascinating and unable to put down. I hope there is a sequel very shortly.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful