The Malice of Unnatural Death

Review by Mike Ashworth

Exeter, 1324. When the body of a local craftsman and a King’s Messenger are found murdered, Sir Baldwin de Furnshill, the Keeper of the King’s Peace, and his friend Bailiff Simon Puttock are asked by the Bishop of Exeter to investigate. However the investigation is complicated by lethal national politics in the form of a plot to murder the King. John of Nottingham, a necromancer in Coventry, had been hired to use magic to kill the monarch and his allies the Despensers. However, the plot is uncovered, and the necromancer flees to Exeter to escape justice and to ply his black arts against the king once more. Throw in a serving girl who is infatuated with her master, the Sheriff, and a dangerous secret which the Bishop is anxious to retrieve, and you have a satisfying mixture of medieval mayhem and murder. Mr Jecks is an expert on Devon’s medieval social history, and as with all his books he writes about the period and the area with sufficient detail to evoke a picture without overpowering the reader with huge, superfluous descriptions. Fans of medieval mysteries will undoubtedly enjoy this, the 22nd book in the series.