cover image A Murder Too Soon

A Murder Too Soon

Michael Jecks. Crème de la Crime, $28.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-78029-098-0

In Jecks’s Rebellion’s Message (2016), gambler Jack Blackjack, who lives among “the purse-snatchers and pilferers” of London, got caught up in the 1554 rebellion that sought to overthrow Queen Mary. In this engrossing sequel set in the same year, the kingdom of England is calm only on the surface. Since he’s eager to escape a paramour’s jealous husband in London, Jack agrees to undertake a distasteful job for his patron, Sir Thomas Percy—to travel beyond Oxford to the palace of Woodstock, where Princess Elizabeth is confined, and murder one of Elizabeth’s guardians, Lady Margery, who poses a threat to the princess’s security and safety. When Jack arrives in Woodstock, “a place steeped in misery and deceit,” he’s astonished to discover that Lady Margery has already been murdered. Jack, himself a suspect, faces the daunting task of identifying the real killer. Plot twists abound, but the novel’s greatest strength is its jaunty tone, plunging the reader into raucous Elizabethan England, when the lady herself was still but “a trim little thing.” (Sept.)