#1 in the Knights Templar medieval series featuring bailiff Simon Puttock and 'retired' Templar knight Sir Baldwin Furnshill in Devon, UK. The time is 1316, several years after the Templars have been disbanded and disgraced, many of their number tortured and executed at the hands of the Inquisition. Sir Baldwin heads to his boyhood home, Furnshill Manor, to resume duty as the Lord of the manor after the death of his elder brother. Simon, meanwhile, is the brand new bailiff of Lydford Castle and finds himself very busy in the first days of his new position.
First, a villager is burned to death in the fire of his cottage and then a group of monks is waylaid by highwaymen, the abbot among them taken for ransom and later found burned at the stake over a fire in the woods. Simon, a rather sensitive man, is devastated and somewhat indecisive as to how to proceed, and Baldwin steps in to assist. They become friends, but Baldwin is wary of sharing the secrets of his past so soon after meeting Simon so their relationship is a little superficial at first. When a group of travelers is brutally attacked, robbed and murdered, things escalate quickly and it's soon determined that there are actually three separate crimes and not one roving band of killers. Bit of a surprising end, but by then I just wanted the book to be done.
I chose this book for a challenge I was in with a category called, "Everyone Deserves a Second Chance" where you read an author you'd previously read and didn't care for. I liked this book better than the other Jecks I'd read a few years ago, but not much. There were many repetitive parts, and Jecks' propensity to describe every person you come across in great detail down to their wrinkles got old really fast. And I didn't particularly like Simon Puttock's character--he seemed like a whiny wimp to me. At any rate, at least for now, I will not be continuing on in this series.
This is one of the very few books I have not been able to finish. The prologue was good but by the time I got into the first chapter I was irritated with his writing style and repetitions of phrases. I had the feeling he was trying to fill up space. I am going to try another of his works to see if they get any better. Sometimes the first of a series is not the author's best work.
Michael Jecks seems to have found a following in America, while novels by many other excellent British historical-mystery writers remain hard to find here. Judging by this first book, I don't understand the accolades Jecks has received. Plodding and dull, with little understanding of the Middle Ages, the book left me unwilling to try any more by this author.
There is very little mystery in the novel, just a story that drags on and on as it follows a dim-witted king's baliff all over the West Country. Simon Puttock does not so much solve a mystery as stumble onto a solution. And the resolution of the mystery makes the set-up for the rest of the series hard to accept.
Leave this one on the shelf and read some Ellis Peters instead.
1314 Paris. Pope Clement has destroyed the Order of Knights Templar, wrongly persuaded of their corruption. Watching through a veil of tears as his friends die at the stake, a surviving knight swears vengeance on their accusers.
1316 Devon. The newly appointed bailiff of Lydford Castle, Simon Puttock, is called to a village where a charred body has been found in a burned-out cottage. Unaccustomed to violence in this peaceful area, Simon assures it's accidental death -- but Sir Baldwin Furnshill, recently returned from abroud, quickly convinces hiim that the victim had been killed before the fire began.
As Simon and the astute yet strangely reticent knight piece together the evidence, word comes of another murder, more horrible by far, for in this case the victim was undoubtedly burned alive. Are the two incidents connected -- and will the killers strike again?
The colours and smells of fourteenth-century Devon come vividly to life in this riveting tale of petty jealousy, burning passion and brutal revenge.
This is a historical fiction book set in Medevial times. It's not the greatest book I've read, but still very good. The first book in the series. I will be reading the The Merchant's Partner soon.
The Order of the Knights have been destroyed ( burned alive ) and the people are living in terror because there are other murders happening around the countryside. What will become of them?
This 14th century mystery is the first in a series about a British bailiff trying to solve a case of death by fire, while assisted by a knight who may or may not have some of the answers. Lots of historical detail.
I started this series "in medias res," immediately fell in love with Sir Baldwin, Edgar, and Simon, and quickly headed for the beginning of the series to see more of how Michael Jecks developed the characterization. The honorable Sir Baldwin, the former Templar, is the seems almost a too perfect noble knight, but even he can surprise both readers and friends. His detecting skills are, of course, outstanding, and the plot is a wonderful feat of narrative sleight of hand!
Of course, as I consider the West Country one of "bits" of England, this is an added draw.
While this book was a good 'murder mystery', felt historically accurate and had good characterization, it had too much introspection and description for me. I found myself skimming or even skipping paragraphs to quickly get to what was happening next.
Perhaps it was my mood, as I did read it in one day and felt in a hurry to finish all 374 pages. However, I have the next book in this long series and I'll read that soon to give the characters a second chance.
I have bought this book twice because it sounded just like what I like, but somehow I've never managed to finish it. It is book one in a series, the idea is that the Knights have just been forced underground and they are seeking justice.
The story takes place in Paris in 1314 where the last Templar witnesses the destruction of the order of the crusades. The next part of the book is about a mystery in Devon where the newly appointed bailiff of Lydford castle Simon Puttock works together with Sir Baldwin Furnshill work out the guilty party of 2 murders.
If you love Dan Brown... go back and read him again! This book is a poor imitation. Badly written with an overly predictable plot that reads like a screenplay treatment for a Bruce Willis movie. The characters are written as stereotypes (the tough Irish Catholic FBI agent who teams with the beautiful blonde archeologist to solve the mystery of the ages is just a little too much to buy into). The climatic ending could best be described as trite and cliched. I bought this book and wish that I could get my money back! One star.