cover image The Dead Don’t Wait

The Dead Don’t Wait

Michael Jecks. Crème de la Crime, $28.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-78029-120-8

Jecks’s fourth mystery featuring Jack Blackjack (after 2018’s A Missed Murder) takes the reader on an enjoyable jaunt through mid-16th-century England. As always, Jack’s priorities are womanizing, drinking, and gambling, until a coroner shows up on his doorstep saying Jack has been accused of fatally stabbing the priest of a parish east of the city of London. An old adversary, Dick Atwood, pointed the finger at Jack for his own twisted reasons, but while Jack is able to persuade the authorities of his innocence, he opts to stay involved in the murder investigation, with the mystery deepening after a local miller is found dead and his daughter vanishes. Jack’s staying on the scene strains belief and leads to a series of plot contrivances, but the novel’s energetic pace never flags as Jack scampers from one catastrophe to the next. The underlying dilemma of priests being forced to give up their wives under pressure from Queen Mary lends a more serious tone to the otherwise madcap proceedings. Fans of Elizabethan historicals will have fun. Agent: Joanna Swainson, Hardman & Swainson (U.K.). (Nov.)