cover image City of Fiends

City of Fiends

Michael Jecks. Simon & Schuster U.K. (IPG, dist.), $24.95 (464p) ISBN 978-0-85720-521-6

Set in 1327 England, Jecks’s 31st Knights Templar mystery (after 2011’s King’s Gold) is a textbook example of how to blend action and detection in a historical. Supporters of Edward II, who was forced to abdicate and then imprisoned at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, are trying to free him. Meanwhile, as the historical record suggests, Bishop Berkeley, whose brother is the monarch’s jailer, dies under suspicious circumstances. Fear about an uncertain future means that “all over the kingdom people went about in a state of constant worry.” Against this tumultuous backdrop, the savage murder of a maid in Exeter comes to the attention of coroner Sir Richard de Welles and Sir Baldwin de Furnshill, Keeper of the King’s Peace. The complex truth behind the slaughter of the clergyman and the servant will satisfy readers as Jecks logically reconciles all the different plot elements by the end. (Dec.)