Christmas 1321 and Sir Baldwin Furnshill, Keeper of the King’s Peace, his wife Jeanne and his friend, Bailiff Simon Puttock have been invited to Exeter to be honoured by receiving a reward – a pair of valuable gloves, presented by the Boy-Bishop, a specially elected member of the cathedral’s young members.
The cathedral is a hotbed of politics, from the youngest Chorister to the Dean himself. But something darker is coming. It seems someone is robbing glovemakers. Nick Karvinel is ambushed and robbed by outlaws and Ralph Glover, glovemaker to the cathedral, is robbed and murdered in his own home.
While Ralph’s apprentice is arrested for his murder, things seem to be open and shut, but another death, this time by poison, occurs at the cathedral. As Sir Baldwin starts to find links between the crimes, it seems that more people than just the killer have something to hide…
The tenth book in the Furnshill-Puttock series from Michael Jecks and it’s still going strong. This time, we get insight in the life of a busy cathedral as Christmas approaches from the point of view of all tiers of its community, using the (genuine) ceremony of the appointment of the Boy-Bishop as its focus. Add into that the leaders of the business community and you get a wide variety of points of view of events.
Jecks’s writing style is to present events from each character’s viewpoint – which is a very difficult trick to pull off. You either ignore the killer from your viewpoints or you give the killer’s view and find a way to ensure that they’re not thinking about the murders. You need to take the second option if you’re going to do it properly and it’s very difficult to pull off fairly. Needless to say, Jecks pulls it off with aplomb. The mystery plays fair with the reader – I spotted the killer about halfway through but, as I’ve said before a few times, I felt that I was being clever when my theory was proved correct, so it didn’t bother me.
As ever, it’s as much a series of character studies as it is an absorbing mystery and a fascinating study of medieval life. It holds your attention as the opening sections piece together to present the whole picture of the crimes and the latter sections piece together to form the solution. It’s a rewarding read and, as you might have guessed by now, it comes Highly Recommended. It’s available as a paperback (recently re-released with a shiny new cover) or as an ebook.
Why not let Michael himself persuade you to try this one?