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City of Fiends by Michael Jecks

Michael Jeck’s “A Knights Templar Mystery” series has a new addition in “City of Fiends.”  The new saga picks up right where “King’s Gold” left off.  King Edward II has escaped his imprisonment at Berkeley Castle and the man who was responsible for his humane treatment in prison, Sir Baldwin, has ridden to Exeter to report to the sheriff that the former king is at large with a band of supporters.  Sir Baldwin and his companions, Sir Richard de Welles and Edgar, Baldwin’s Sergeant, discover that a particularly heinous murder has taken place in Exeter in the alley beside the home of the wealthiest merchant Exeter, Henry Paffard.  The Paffard’s maid, a lady Paffard has been linked to romantically, is the victim.  Sir Baldwin, Keeper of the King’s Peace, is the logical one to be brought in to investigate the murder.  Shortly after, another lady who is associated with the Paffard family, is murdered in the same alley.  Are the Paffards trying to get rid of embarrassing associates, is a nervous priest to blame, or is this the start of a plot to take down the city by Edward II sympathizers?

City of Fiends” has the usual Jeck’s page-turner formula: lots of knightly action, great character description that draws the reader in to speculate on the motivations and flaws of each character, and a complex plot with lots of possible murder suspects.  Toward the end it appears that Sir Baldwin is about to hang up his spurs and his chain mail and retire to his estate and his family, but what fun would that be for an old soldier.  My guess is the next book will soon find Sir Baldwin restless and anxious to serve King and Country.  In “City of Fiends” Sir Baldwin does battle with one group of marauding insurrectionists, but there must be many more to fight before the old king and his followers give up again.  No doubt, Sir Baldwin has not seen the last of King Edward II or the new King Edward III and his regent mother.

As the reader can tell, I enjoy this series, even though the mysteries are a little formulaic, and life in Medieval times is romanticized.

Liz Nichols

(Reviewed from a supplied copy of the novel.)

 

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King’s Gold by Michael Jecks

King’s Gold” is the latest of many in Michael Jecks’ “A Knights Templar Mystery” series.  It is set in London and the Cotswolds area of England in in 1326 and 1327. It is based around the historical events that took place when Edward II was forced to abdicate to his more competent son, Edward III.  Both men had loyal cadres of knights, but eventually, the ones loyal to the old king, later known as Edward of Caernarfon, eventually were defeated and many lost their lives.

The mystery begins with the murders of two innocent young people during a riot that occurred in London following the capture of Edward II.  A young Italian banker, Matteo Bardi, is also injured. One of Edward II’s loyal knights, Hugh Despenser, brings a chest with his treasury for safe storage at the church in the village of Willersey and then is promptly captured and tortured to death.

Edward II is taken to the castle at Kenilworth as a captive of a lord loyal to the new king, but Edward is allowed to have a few loyal knights to stay in the compound in order to protect the former king from any assassination plot. He is later taken to the castle at Berkeley.

The priest from Willersey, Father Luke, decides that he must take the treasure from the former king’s dead knight to Edward as the rightful heir of this wealth.  He travels with a carter from the village who is bringing supplies to Kenilworth.  They accumulate some knights along the way who seem to be interested in finding a way to break Edward II out of Kenilworth.

The author, who lives in the Dartmoor area of England, is an expert on medieval England, especially Cornwall and Wales and he weaves a lot of realistic social history into his fictional tale.

I thoroughly enjoy this period of history, and Jakes has spun a tale of intrigue and deception that will keep the reader guessing until the very end. “King’s Gold” is very much recommended for historical mystery lovers who enjoy the medieval period.

Liz Nichols

 

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