cover image The Boy-Bishop's Glovemaker

The Boy-Bishop's Glovemaker

Michael Jecks. Headline Book Publishing, $28 (331pp) ISBN 978-0-7472-7247-2

A welcome addition to Jecks's successful medieval mysteries, this 10th in the series takes place at Christmastime 1321 in the city of Exeter, whose citizens are preparing for the holy day and for the election of the ""boy-bishop,"" who for 24 hours beginning on December 27 will serve as bishop while all the cathedral clergy, canons and choristers enjoy a day free from the rigid routines of the church. The day ends with a mass and the awarding of gem-studded gloves to the honored boy and outstanding citizens, who include Sir Baldwin de Furnshill, Keeper of the King's Peace of Credition in Devon, and Simon Puttock, Bailiff to the Warden of the Stannaries. Baldwin, his wife, Lady Jeanne, and Simon arrive for the festivities only to find a hanging victim swinging by the gate and to hear news that Ralph Glover, the well-respected and benevolent craftsman commissioned to make the gloves for the ceremony, has been murdered and his apprentice accused of the crime. After the poisoning of a cathedral cleric, Baldwin and Simon investigate. Their inquiries reveal long-hidden secrets of some of Exeter's most prominent citizens and lead to an unlikely murderer. Vivid descriptions of the agonizing death by poison and the muck in the streets, combined with the more pleasing majesty of the cathedral and candle-studded hall decorated with holly and ivy, re-create Exeter as it was. Realistic characters from the disfigured beggar to the angst-ridden adolescents only add to this well-conceived, well-written story. (Apr. 1)