About the book | Author’s letter | From the publisher | About the author | Excerpt | Reading copy giveaway
Allen & Unwin is extremely excited to be publishing international bestselling author Minette Walters’ new novel The Last Hours in October.
The Last Hours is Minette Walters’ first book in 10 years and marks a bold and brilliant new direction for the ‘queen of the psychological thriller.’ It is a gripping historical novel set in 1348 against the devastation and horror of the Black Death that is as intriguing and suspenseful as any of Minette’s crime thrillers.
‘No crime author has had a greater incentive to write about the worst killer man has ever known … and point fingers at the culprits …There are many worse criminals in history than there are in crime fiction.’—Minette Walters on The Last Hours
Minette Walters has published more than a dozen internationally bestselling psychological suspense novels including The Ice House, The Sculptress and The Scold’s Bridle, which all became successful TV series. Award-winning, bestselling and highly acclaimed, Minette Walters is one of the greatest female crime writers with more than one million copies of her books sold across Australia and New Zealand and over 25 million copies of her books sold worldwide.
About the book
The Last Hours
Minette Walters, Allen & Unwin, October 2017
When the Black Death enters England through the port of Melcombe in Dorseteshire in June 1348, no one knows what manner of sickness it is or how it spreads and kills so quickly. The Church cites God as the cause, and religious fear grips the people as they come to believe that the plague is a punishment for wickedness.
But Lady Anne of Develish has her own ideas. Educated by nuns, Anne is a rarity among women, being both literate and knowledgeable. With her brutal husband absent from Develish when news of this pestilence reaches her, she takes the decision to look for more sensible ways to protect her people than daily confessions of sin. Well-versed in the importance of isolating the sick from the well, she withdraws her people inside the moat that surrounds her manor house and refuses entry even to her husband.
She makes an enemy of her daughter and her husband’s steward by doing so, but her resolve is strengthened by the support of her leading serfs … until food stocks run low and the nerves of all are tested by continued confinement and ignorance of what is happening in the world outside. The people of Develish are alive. But for how long? And what will they discover when the time comes for them to cross the moat?
Compelling and suspenseful, The Last Hours is a riveting tale of human ingenuity and endurance against the worst pandemic known to history. In Lady Anne of Develish—leader, saviour, heretic—Walters has created her most memorable heroine to date.
Dear book-loving colleagues,
I am thrilled to be able to tell you a little bit about my new novel The Last Hours, which Allen & Unwin will publish in October. It marks a change of direction—from psychological crime to a novel about survival during the dark and disturbing history of the Black Death—and is incredibly exciting. I’ve enjoyed bringing the same analytical qualities to history as I did to crime, and I believe readers will find The Last Hours as compelling, suspenseful and intriguing as any of my whodunnits.
The Last Hours is set in Dorset in 1348 and tells the story of how Lady Anne of Develish takes measures to protect her serfs against the Black Death. Dorset was the first county in England to be afflicted when a ship from France brought the sickness to Weymouth, and contemporary chronicles record that barely one in ten was left alive by the time the pestilence passed.
I live nine miles from Weymouth in a small hamlet with a 12th-century church and raised mounds which delineate a medieval settlement. Our whole village is a scheduled monument, and each time I leave my house I know that somewhere beneath my feet is a plague pit.
No crime author has had a greater incentive to write about the worst killer man has ever known … and point fingers at the culprits.
There are many worse criminals in history than there are in crime fiction!
With my very best wishes,
From the publisher
‘Minette Walters is a superb crime writer. Psychological suspense is her milieu, her worldwide sales number well over 25 million copies, her books have been made into television series and feature films, her writing acclaimed and awarded. But for the last ten years Walters’ pen has been quiet. Until now. The Last Hours is a brilliant historical novel as suspenseful and intriguing as any of Walters’ crime novels. We are so proud to be part of Walters’ change of direction and to be bringing The Last Hours to her readers.’—Annette Barlow, Publisher
About the author
Minette Walters is the critically acclaimed and internationally bestselling author of suspense novels, including The Devil’s Feather, The Sculptress and Acid Row. She is the recipient of an Edgar Award and two CWA Gold Dagger awards, among other awards. She lives in Dorset with her husband.
(Photo credit: Vicky Fry)
For most, the Black Death is the end.
For a brave few, it heralds a new beginning.
Read a sample chapter of the book here.
Reading copy giveaway
Be one of the first to read The Last Hours. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for your chance to receive one of ten proof copies.