Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Crediton Killings by Michael Jecks

One reason I enjoy reading medieval mysteries is they offer a certain degree of escapism. They allow a glimpse into another time when life was simpler, harsher and more rudimentary that is so contrary to our current lifestyle, the reader is drawn into the situation, making him think he’s standing in the middle of the town with the story unfolding all around him, with all the sights, sounds and smells. Yet the reader becomes grateful for modern-day creature comforts such as sewer systems, garbage removal and environmental laws.

The vivid details that Michael Jecks uses to describe the daily conditions of the small village of Crediton in fourteenth century England are real enough the reader can almost smell the odors of the open sewage trench running though the middle of the main street and the animal guts and excrement thrown out into the open from the butcher’s shop.

In The Crediton Killings, the fourth in the series featuring Keeper of the King’s Peace Sir Baldwin Furnshill and Bailiff Simon Puttock, a team of mercenaries has descended upon the town after being turned down by King Edward II to join his army. While the disgruntled soldiers of fortune cool their heels at a local inn, a serving girl has her eye on their leader, Sir Hector, and a newbie wants to join the band of mercenaries. Soon after the newbie disappears at the same time Hector’s silver goes missing and the serving girl is found murdered.

Hector and his closest lieutenant’s think the solution is simple when the newbie is found with some of the missing silver. Baldwin isn’t so certain. After a beggar woman is found murdered, he feels that someone is trying to manipulate him into a false conclusion.

During all this, Simon and his wife are reeling from the recent loss of their infant son Peterkin. Their grief puts a strain on their marriage and Baldwin feels helpless that he can’t help his closest friend.

Another reason I like medieval mysteries is the complex and deliciously twisted plots that cant’ be pulled from today’s headlines. Jecks pulls from fourteenth century culture, politics and public mindset to weave an intricate mystery with surprising twists even after the final solution.

The Crediton Killings is a great read even for those who aren’t fans of mysteries.

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