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  • Barbara Copperthwaite

Review: CITY OF MASKS, S.D. Sykes

City of Masks, by SD Sykes. Review by Barbara Copperthwaite

'There’s something for everyone in this gentle crime fiction'


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.


Still crime, but a definite change of pace for me, as I rarely read historical fiction – but I always make an exception with S.D. Sykes.

The City of Masks is the third in her Somershill Manor series featuring Oswald de Lacy, and this time it is a falling out with troublesome relatives that kick-starts the action as he and his mother visit Venice.

Despite the change of location, the book is as absorbing a read as ever. S.D. Sykes has a way of weaving meticulous period detail through her stories without it ever feeling overwhelming – instead, it brings the story to life. This time she has surpassed herself, and I felt transported to the Venice of yesteryear. As amateur detective Oswald finds himself sucked into investigating a murder, little gems of humour are thrown in that lighten the pace. There’s something for everyone in this gentle crime fiction, right down to a floating brothel run by nuns… Great book!

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