Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Friar's Bloodfeud

I'm not sure what to do about Michael Jecks.  His last few books have been disappointing, but I've got 7 unread installments in his Sir Baldwin de Funshill and Simon Puttock series sitting on my shelf, most of which I bought from with the exchange rate and international shipping fees you'd expect.  Maybe Jecks needs to slow down a bit (he releases a book every 9 or 10 months, where most authors wait a year or so between books), because the last two books I've read have felt rushed, with poorly integrated subplots.

Yes, it's still the Year of the Subplot in my personal library, and Jecks's editor should have removed the 40 pages or so devoted to Lady Jeanne's maid.  If Emma had been mentioned in earlier books, it was only in passing, and her only role here is to exasperate Baldwin.  

The main plot is a little tighter.  Two years before the novel opens, Simon's servant Hugh had married a young woman who'd been released from her vows as a nun.  Their hut is attacked and burned, apparently killing Hugh and his wife and son.  Baldwin and Simon travel to investigate the crime, and find that a wealthy young widow has been killed as well.  Both crimes turn out to be part of a property dispute which Baldwin and Simon solve while Baldwin's servant Edgar helps insure that justice is served.

I enjoyed A Friar's Bloodfeud more than I enjoyed The Butcher of St. Peter's, because the main plot was clearer and more engrossing and the characters better fleshed out.  Maybe Jecks is pulling out of his slump.  I hope so because I like Baldwin and Simon and wish Jecks would return to giving them stories worthy of their characters.

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