cover image Death Comes Hot

Death Comes Hot

Michael Jecks. Crème de la Crime, $28.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-78029-131-4

At the start of Jecks’s diverting fifth outing for Jack Blackjack (after 2019’s The Dead Don’t Wait), Jack, a cutpurse and rogue in 16th-century London, tries unsuccessfully to evade an unwelcome visitor, inept public executioner Hal Westmecott, who holds a knife to his throat. Hal, who blames Jack for selling him black powder that didn’t ignite when he tried to burn a priest to death, forces Jack into searching for Hal’s vanished wife and son. Jack’s efforts on Hal’s behalf lead to him being attacked and rendered unconscious. He also stumbles on a dead body, and a subsequent murder could have something to do with the rivalry between Catholic Queen Mary and her Protestant half-sister, the Lady Elizabeth. Never mind some confusing plot twists and the often frantic pace. The main draw is high-spirited Jack, with his Bertie Woosterish commentary (“I don’t know whether you have ever experienced such a sensation. There is something particularly unpleasant about being brought up short by a length of steel at the Adam’s apple”). Fans of offbeat Tudor mysteries will clamor for more. Agent: Joanna Swainson, Hardman & Swainson (U.K.). (Dec.)