In 1361, the Black Death is again sweeping England, and Oswald de Lacy has decided that for the sake of his family, he must take them to stay with his friend Godfrey on the isolated Isle of Eden. Once the portcullis closes behind them, it will not open again until spring. When they arrive, not only do they find that the plague is not far away on the island, but a murder occurs soon after the fortress is secured. Oswald has some previous experience investigating crimes at his own manor and in Venice, so he begins investigating which of the guests and members of the household is the murderer among them.
The fourth in the Somershill Manor mystery series by S.D. Sykes (after City of Masks), The Bone Fire combines elements of the traditional country house mystery with the oppressive atmosphere of 14th-century England during the plague. Other friends seeking sanctuary from Godfrey, a knight overseeing the defense of the fortress, tradesmen in Godfrey's employ and the household servants are all confined together, knowing that one of them must be a murderer, but that leaving the walls means potential exposure to the disease. Deft characterization introduces new readers to the members of the de Lacy family without slowing the pace with excessive explanation of previous events. This claustrophobic mystery full of medieval atmosphere will be as engrossing as an entry point to the series as it will be to returning fans. --Kristen Allen-Vogel, information services librarian at Dayton Metro Library