1358. Oswald de Lacy, Lord Somershill, is in Venice, awaiting a pilgrim galley to the Holy Land. While the city is under siege from the Hungarians, Oswald lodges with an English merchant, and soon comes under the dangerous spell of the decadent and dazzling island state that sits on the hinge of Europe, where East meets West.
Oswald is trying to flee the chilling shadow of something in his past, but when he finds a dead man on the night of the carnival, he is dragged into a murder investigation that takes him deep into the intrigues of this mysterious, paranoid city.
Coming up against the feared Signori di Notte, the secret police, Oswald learns that he is not the only one with something to hide. Everybody is watching somebody else, and nobody in Venice is what he or she seems. The masks are not just for the carnival.
Comparisons to the master of historical crime, CJ Sansom, are inevitable and, in this case, justified. - The Times
The whodunnit aspect is neatly done, the family secrets and waspish relationships are intriguing, and humour and originality are abundant. - Daily Mail
Sykes offers an unusual perspective on this historical period ... She also deals realistically with the troubles of the era's women. - New York Times
Trouble, and its attendant duties, confront the reluctant young lord on nearly every page of this eventful, engrossing, informative mystery set in mid-14th-century Kent, England. - Wall Street Journal
There's a nice, cliche-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. - Independent
Sykes establishes herself firmly as a major talent. - Publishers Weekly
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.