My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’ve read a number of Minette Walters’ novels. I have enjoyed them all. There often seems to be a past theme in a character's history with psychological impacts etc. Such things are understandable because they are set in modern day times. The people or characters that unravel the crimes or conundrums seem to be well educated or equipped with knowledge in some way.
This story is set during The Black Death in Medieval England during the 1340s decade. It is in a small Dorset Hamlet where a lord or landowner has a moated abode with servants and working serfs tending the lands etc.
The Lady of the manor calls all serfs into the confines to sit out the pestilence in the sanctuary of the moated grounds. There seems to be a setting out of circumstances before there is a crime to be solved. I was almost halfway through the book by this time. It was a good mystery with all the varied consequences and set against the backdrop of a dystopian land ravaged by plague.
Despite this, I struggled with the novel because of Lady Anne of the manor. Her character came across as being surreal. I could understand a Lady trying to help the serfs, but I would have expected her to be strictly matriarchal and with a strong sense of Godly duty. Perhaps like a lady of these deeply religious times.
Instead, this Lady Anne’s character came across as some modern-day trendy left-wing liberal. One who might have been recognisable as a tutor in one of today’s inner city polytechnics and then quantum leapt into the body of a middle-aged Lady. The story was good but Lady Anne was a woman of today’s outlook and out-of-character for the time.