Gene Lyons
July 25, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Plague Tales

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Ann Benson
genre
Fiction, Historical Fiction

We gave it an A-

Part historical novel, part futuristic adventure, Ann Benson’s cleverly narrated saga about the bubonic plague — an epidemic that wiped out a third of Europe’s population 700 years ago — tells two parallel stories. One is the tale of a Spanish physician dispatched in 1384 to protect the court of England’s King Edward from the plague. The second is set in London in the near future when antibiotics have lost their effectiveness and armed ”Bio-Cops” prowl the city, empowered to kill diseased persons. The convergence of the two plots isn’t nearly as silly as it might have been. For all its hokeyness, The Plague Tales is surprisingly literate, chockful of curious lore and considerable suspense. A-

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