The Malice Of Unnatural Death by Michael Jecks

Malice Of Unnatural DeathNovember 1324, a time of unrest in England. Roger Mortimer, once Edward II’s trusted commander, is plotting an uprising – an uprising that involves the assassination of the King by any means possible. Even by magical means…

A plot amongst a group of magicians is broken up in Coventry, but the lead necromancer, John Of Nottingham, escapes to Exeter to resume his plotting. Meanwhile, Simon Puttock is charged with escorting a bishop to Exeter, and Sir Baldwin de Furnshill finds himself in the city investigating the murderer of a King’s messenger. But when all trails seem to point to the necromancers in the city, can a murderer who can kill with magic ever be bought for justice?

Book 22 in the Knights Templar series by Michael Jecks, and we find Sir Baldwin de Furnshill under pressure to take on a new role, one that will separate him from his wife and young family, while Bailiff Simon Puttock seeing a glimmer of hope that his exile/promotion in Dartmouth may be coming to an end.

Michael was kind enough to do an interview with me – see my last post – after twenty one excellent entries in the series, it seemed appropriate to ask him. And naturally I decided to do the next in the series to tie into the review. And naturally…

To be fair, this always had a hard act to follow – The Death Ship Of Dartmouth was an outstanding piece of work. This one shows all of the strongest aspects of Michael’s writing. Strong characters, a complex, multi-stranded interweaved plots, at least one heart-breaking twist at the end. The historical background – the part about an attempt to assassinate Edward II by magic really happened – is as strong as ever, with medieval Exeter as evocatively brought to life as ever.

But for some reason, it didn’t quite click for me. And, as a way of demonstrating my stunning ability as a reviewer, I really can’t put my finger on why.

It’s possible that for once, there was possibly too much going on. I certainly found myself checking the Dramatis Personae at the start of the book much more often that I normally do to remember who was who, but that may be due to me reading the first sections in smaller chunks than usual. And at least one subplot seemed irrelevant to the overall story, despite being a very effectively told tale.

Still, it’s a very strong novel – just didn’t quite click with me – but it’s one of the highest rated of the series over at Goodreads, so maybe it’s just me. Things are set up nicely for something of a change of direction in the next book –  As ever, this series is Highly Recommended, but maybe don’t start with this one.


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