cover image The Merchant Murderers

The Merchant Murderers

Michael Jecks. Severn, $29.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7278-5092-8

In Jecks’s superb seventh Tudor mystery starring Jack Blackjack, a roguish assassin in the employ of Queen Mary’s sister, Lady Elizabeth (after 2021’s The Moorland Murderers), Jack has fled London, fearing arrest, following suspicions that his lady has been plotting to seize the crown. He’s gone to Devon, hoping to seek passage to refuge in France. That plan is complicated when Jack gets involved in investigating the murder of Roger Lane, found in an alley with his head bashed in. Lane had made many enemies, and he was considered heretical for his devotion to the Church of England rather than Catholicism. In addition, his reputation as a ladies’ man led numerous men to believe he’d cuckolded them. Jack suspects the killing may be tied to a feud between two local merchants who blamed each other after their ships were attacked at sea. Touches of Wodehousian humor (“No matter how rosy life can look, there is always the possibility that Chance and Fate had only been pulling up their shirt-sleeves, cracking their knuckles and preparing to make life sticky”) enhance a fast-moving and gripping plot. After more than 45 novels, Jecks still has plenty of tricks up his sleeves. Agent: Joanna Swainson, Hardman & Swainson (U.K.). (Oct.)