Wednesday, 21 August 2013

City of Fiends - Michael Jecks


City of Fiends is the 31st instalment of the Knights Templar mysteries, which Jecks has been writing since 1995.  Jecks is prolific to the extreme - he writes other series and is a key member of the Medieval Murderers.  Normally, such an output would impact on quality, but City of Fiends is by far the best of the series that I have read.  Recently Jecks has been tempted by the common trap of delaying the entrance of your hero.  Not this time; this time he reminds us of Baldwin before he actually returns to the city (Exeter) and starts sorting out fiends.  By doing so Jecks gets the necessary exposition out of the way and explains one of the key storylines - that this novel takes place during the period when the deposed Edward II was supposedly sprung from Berkeley Castle.  Historically, it is a conspiracy theory, advanced beyond its merits via the internet but it suits Jecks' thirty-one volume narrative perfectly.

There are several murders within the city and some extremely perverse peccadillos.  There is a large cast of supporting characters, richly drawn and clearly distinguished from one another.  Jecks is clever in manipulating our suspicions and he expertly switches our attention from suspect to suspect.  I didn't guess who had really done the crimes, and the unmasking, when it came, was perfectly credible.

I see from Jecks' website that his next novel is a prequel, set before Baldwin's return from the crusades.  I can't wait.  In case I have to, the other good news is that his publishers, Simon & Schuster, are reissuing the entire series from the beginning, three titles a month.

This may be the year Jecks breaks through to the really big time.  On this form, he certainly deserves to.  Hotly recommended.

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