Monday, March 14, 2011

The Death Ship of Dartmoor

I think I've figured out what Michael Jecks's problem is - he needs a new editor.  I still enjoy reading about Sir Baldwin and Simon Puttock, and Jecks still vibrantly draws 14th Century England.  I just wish he'd return to the tight plotting he used in his earlier novels.

The Death Ship of Dartmoor is at least an improvement over the last two installments in the series, and the main mystery is fairly engrossing.  Simon is now the Keeper of the Port of Dartmouth and when a ship comes into harbor, burned and with the crew missing but the cargo intact, it's his job to figure out what happened.  Baldwin appears not to help him but to try to find Bishop Walter Stapleton's nephew who has disappeared in Dartmoor and may be the man found murdered in a hole in Dartmoor's main road.  While Baldwin's mystery is yet another disposable subplot, the fate of the titular death ship was interesting enough to keep Jecks off 'probation' and Sir Andrew de Limpsfield (the coroner and this volume's comic character) was actually amusing and helped advance the plot.  Jecks's 20th novel may signal a return to form, and I really hope it is.  Mainly because I don't want to think I've wasted money ( does not offer free trans-Atlantic shipping) and I've got six more volumes on my bookshelf.

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