Sunday, October 7, 2012

Dispensation of Death

I think Michael Jecks changed editors with Dispensation of Death.  It's a much more tightly plotted and cleanly paced book than his last several Sir Baldwin novels.  Or maybe he just realized he didn't need a subplot to get his novel past the 450-page line.  He's still keeping Baldwin and Simon away from their Devon homes, but at least he allows them to work as a team.

Baldwin and Simon have travelled to London; Baldwin to serve in Parliament and Simon at the request of the Bishop of Exeter.  They are thrust into a court in disarray - Edward II has essentially imprisoned his Queen Isabella with his niece (and his lover's wife) Eleanor as her de facto jailer.  Soon, a masked attacker kills one of her ladies in waiting and a known assassin's mutilated body is found behind Edward's throne.  Baldwin and Simon set out to solve both murders, despite Sir Hugh le Despenser's disguised threat to reveal Baldwin's history as a Knight Templar and the King's disinterest in solving the original crime once Hugh is himself targeted by an assassin.  Jecks effectively uses shifting POV to move the story along and neatly interlaces the plot threads, ending with a slight twist.  For the first time in a while, I'm looking forward to reading the next Sir Baldwin mystery.  I just hope that I'm not disappointed - the final page implies that his next adventure will be in France, and the knight's last overseas trip when the series started to decline.

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