No Law in the Land

Review by Alana White

Make no mistake about it: in Michael Jecks’s latest Knights Templar Mystery, No Law in the Land, there is no law and precious little justice for anyone. Set in October 1325, the story centers on Bailiff Simon Puttock and Sir Baldwin de Furnshill, Keeper of the King’s Peace, and the lawlessness they encounter upon their return to England after escorting Queen Isabella to France. When Simon and Sir Baldwin inform King Edward II that the queen has no intention of ever returning to England, Edward is furious and dismisses Simon and Baldwin from court.

Meanwhile, Osbert, a villain worthy of any contemporary thriller, is wreaking havoc in the countryside at the behest of a cruel, rogue knight, Sir Robert de Traci, and Robert’s vile son, Basil. We know exactly how bad Osbert (in particular) is when he snaps a puppy’s neck and then knifes its mother. As one fellow tells himself, these are not good times for a man to travel. This becomes gruesomely clear when a group of travelling men, women, and children is slaughtered and a chest of silver meant for King Edward disappears. And then Simon’s beloved, newly-wed and now pregnant daughter, Edith, is kidnapped and held prisoner at the behest of Sir Hugh le Despenser, who is King Edward’s despicable right-hand-man, and who means to keep both the king and Simon under his control using any means at his disposal.

This is number twenty-seven in Jecks’s medieval West Country mystery series. No doubt fans of Simon and Sir Baldwin will welcome them back in this installment. A cast of characters helps keep everyone straight.