A Missed Murder: A Tudor Mystery (Bloody Mary Mystery)

Review by Kristen McQuinn

Jack Blackjack is an assassin working for the historic John Blount, although Jack is squeamish around blood. He became an assassin because he wants the relatively high salary, and he’s rightfully concerned that Blount will kill him if he says no. However, Jack is a screw-up, accidentally killing a man whose murder was previously countermanded. He also hired his lover’s father to do the actual killing for him. See above re: squeamish around blood. Now Jack has to get out of his self-inflicted mess alive. The plot thickens as he manipulates events, trying not to become his own next victim.

This was the first book I’ve read by Michael Jecks, and unfortunately it will likely be the last. It’s disappointing because the blurb sounded excellent. I thought Jack was not merely an unlikeable character but also a revolting one: an arrogant braggart who views women as sub-human objects. Within just the first few pages, Jack makes multiple comments about how well-endowed women with vacant eyes are a turn-on. Additionally, there are many juvenile euphemisms for sex in the text, like “hide the sausage,” “pounding the mattress,” and “mattress galloping,” that might appeal to immature audiences, but not, I think, to most adults. Even allowing for 16th-century social mores, this is hard to stomach. Although women were not seen as equal to men, there are many historical examples of men who valued strong, intelligent women. The ubiquitous sexism detracts from an already tepid plot that is lacking any meaningful historical detail. I know Jecks has popular books in another series, so perhaps this novel is an aberration from his usual writing style. However, based on the lack of historical detail, stilted dialogue, unnecessarily puerile sexism, and uninspired plot, I recommend giving this one a pass.