Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Abbot's Gibbet by Michael Jecks

The Abbot's Gibbet
Written by Michael Jecks
A Medieval West Country Mystery
A Knight's Templar Mystery

Michael Jecks continues the tale of former knight templar Sir Baldwin Furnshill and his ally and friend Simon Puttock in the fifth novel in the series.

The mystery around this time starts off with a headless corpse. In an era where modern forensics are unknown, to have a corpse with no head leads to difficulties beyond the standard whodunit mysteries.

Setting the murder during the fair of the 'dock' city of Tavistock, makes things more difficult. Michael Jecks initially hits us with so many characters, that the names and descriptions come fast and furious. It takes a while before we even get to Sir Baldwin and Simon!

As with other books in the series, Michael's enjoyment of the era comes through. This isn't blind devotion or thinking it a superior in terms of moral authority, but a knowledge of how things work. Take the title of the book itself, The Abbot's Gibbet. Sir Baldwin's order, the Templars, did not fare well under the agents of Gods mercies. When Sir Baldwin looks at that, the ultimate sign of authority over life and death, he is not a man pleased with his place in the world.

It does serve to steel his spine and ensure that he always works towards providing the justice he feels his brothers in the templars were denied.

Michael continues to expand the setting. This novel introduces us to Lady Jeanne, a widower who benefits from the generosity of the Abbot. Sir Baldwin, who is a single man of no small years, is smitten with her and her presence is hinted at being continued strongly through their courtship in the novel.

There are enough characters and possible motivations and possible rationales and red herrings, that if you catch the villain before the end piece, I salute you. Mind you, this is somewhat deliberately obstruction in some instances as bread crumbs leading in very specific directions are laid before pulled back. Too much of that can ruin a story but as more information comes to light, nothing from before is invalidated.

For me, it's enjoyable to read these books because it's fun to see where the characters are going. Who the characters are interacting with. How the setting itself as it involves the characters, is getting larger and more involved.

If you're interested in history or more information on Michael Jecks, check out his youtube channel.