England, 1348: as the Black Death spreads through the country, people start to die in their thousands.
In Dorset, young Lady Anne takes control of her lands, with her trusted steward, Thaddeus, at her side. Compassionate and resourceful, she decides to quarantine the estate against the terrifying pestilence, bringing some two hundred serfs inside the moated walls.
But in such a confined space, conflicts soon arise. Ignorant of the world outside, Lady Anne’s people wrestle with the terrible uncertainty of their futures. Fearing starvation but fearing the disease even more, who amongst them has the courage to leave the security of the walls?
And how safe is anyone when a dreadful event threatens the uneasy status quo…?
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.
‘A wonderful and sweeping 14th century saga, with fabulous sense of place and history. Very satisfying.’ – Kate Mosse
‘An enthralling account of a calamitous time, and above all a wonderful testimony to the strength of the human spirit. I was caught from the first page.’ – Julian Fellowes
‘A vividly-wrought and powerful story. With The Last Hours, Minette Walters has brought her impressive skill as a writer of psychological crime to create a dark and gripping depiction of Medieval England in the jaws of the Black Death.’ – Elizabeth Fremantle
‘Walters’s crime novels are admired for their claustrophobic atmosphere and precision-engineered suspense. With The Last Hours, she has swapped that taut plotting for a more expansive structure and ambitiously broad canvas. As the inhabitants of Develish discover, striking out for the unknown is a worthwhile adventure, whatever the outcome.’ – The Guardian
‘Minette Walters may have changed the genre in which she chooses to write, but she has not lost the greatest gift she possesses as a writer – the ability to create characters who arouse readers’ interest, and to fashion a plot that holds the attention. The Last Hours is a gripping and original novel.’ – BBC History Magazine
‘Certainly, Minette’s ability to tell a suspenseful, page-turning story (as she proved in classic crime novels such as The Sculptress, Acid Row and Fox Evil) is much in evidence in The Last Hours. I hope The Last Hours will bring new readers for Minette as, although distinctly different from her crime fiction output, it demonstrates that she is still the fine story-teller which made her psychological thrillers so good.’ – Mike Ripley, Shots magazine
‘A sweeping narrative, marked “To Be Continued” at its end, The Last Hours draws us into the terrifying world of its characters.’ – The Sunday Times
‘Walters’s skill and subtlety in portraying the suffering and disarray of a feudal society in which disease rampages and God has seemingly gone mad is masterly. And, as with her bestselling suspense novels, the psychological drama is gripping.’ – Elizabeth Buchan, Daily Mail
‘It’s definitely worth a read.’ – Stylist
‘Crime queen Minette Walters turns her hand to historical fiction to riveting effect’ – Good Housekeeping
‘Worth more than 5 stars, because who doesn’t love a book that is 100% engaging and flawlessly written.’ –Raven Books Shop, South Australia
‘What a joy to read Minette Walters new book, The Last Hours. She brings her writing skills, her exploration of human interaction and her love of intrigue and suspense together with the research and knowledge of the time of the Black Death.’ – Book Bonding
‘The various characters’ lives are presented in a manner that is relatable. Differences to today may be great but there are many parallels. The writing is masterful and consistently engaging. The author has lost none of her abilities to enthral her readers. It offers more than fictionalised social history, it is high quality entertainment.’ – Jackie Law, neverimitate
‘The Last Hours quickly puts down roots and takes hold, ensuring a gripping, striking and remarkably readable tale.’ – Liz Robinson, LoveReading
‘Minette Walters is a fabulous writer. The story has an inspiring heroine and an incredible villain.’ – Carole’s Chatter
‘Although Minette Walters is a bone fide crime fiction writer, the crime in this novel is subtle, merely playing its part in a much wider story. It is a thrilling read, with plenty of suspense, as there is constant fear and uncertainty right up to the very end.’ – Created to Read
‘Deeply researched and engrossing, this masterful series opener leaves readers hanging—Rats!—so they’ll eagerly await the sequel.’ – Kirkus, Starred review