City of Masks

Young Oswald de Lacy, Lord Somershill, has fled his English estate, full of melancholia and flashbacks to tragedies in his life. He and his obstreperous mother are on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land when the King of Hungary blockades the Italian coast, and they become stranded in Venice.

Drawn into Venice's decadent and secretive society, but still suffering from unexplained nightmares, Oswald is at loose ends. As the weeks drag, he begins to gamble extensively--leading to an interrogation by representatives of the Doge and a massive debt to an unscrupulous man. But suddenly circumstances turn even more awry when a member of the Somershill household is murdered. Desperate to come up with some quick cash for the journey home, and to fend off his mother's interference, he undertakes the investigation in exchange for lucrative payment. Though he's played sleuth previously on his own estates, Oswald soon discovers how far a cry that was from investigating a death in this closed, enigmatic city.

From brothels to dungeons to palaces, Oswald must journey all over Venice as he tracks a killer. And along the way, he discovers that he is not the only one with matters he'd prefer to keep hidden.

Menacingly atmospheric, City of Masks captures the glamour and paranoia of medieval Venetian society. An intriguing mystery, with a fascinating background, City of Masks is the third Somershill mystery by S.D. Sykes (Plague Land, The Butcher Bird). Historical fiction readers and mystery lovers are both sure to enjoy this historically accurate, dark and entertaining novel. --Jessica Howard, bookseller at Bookmans

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