The Good Death: A Somershill Manor Mystery

S.D. Sykes. Pegasus Crime, $25.95 (364p) ISBN 978-1-64313-779-7
In Sykes’s superior fifth mystery featuring Oswald de Lacy (after 2019’s The Bone Fire), the action alternates between 1349, when the 18-year-old de Lacy was a novice at Kintham Abbey, and 1370, when de Lacy, now Lord Somershill, shares secrets from the past with his dying mother to get her forgiveness. At Kintham Abbey, while on an errand to collect herbs, he spots teenager Agnes Wheeler, who helps with the monastery’s laundry, hiding in a bush. Agnes is terrified, and flees into a river, warning “Keep away from me, priest!” before the current sweeps her away, drowning her. When de Lacy retrieves the body, he finds marks of violence on it, including rope abrasions. Blaming himself for scaring Agnes into her fatal flight, he resolves to identify her assailant, who may have also been responsible for the disappearances of several other girls. That task becomes more complex after he learns the truth about Agnes’s parentage. The framing device increases suspense, and the author’s inventiveness and gift for description serves to deepen an already nuanced lead. Sykes solidifies her standing as a preeminent historical whodunit writer. Agent: Deborah Schneider, ICM Partners. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/28/2021
Release date: 09/07/2021
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
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