Michael Jecks’ ninth book in his medieval murder series, The Traitor of St. Giles, is the best yet. The first few books in the series were a little long on detail and short on plot, but that has been remedied in the last few books in the series.
Here is a brief summary of the plot from the book’s website:
It is 1321 and the King’s favourite, Hugh Despenser, is corruptly using his position to steal lands and wealth from other lords. His rapacity has divided the nation and civil war looms.
In Tiverton rape and murder have unsettled the folk preparing for St Giles’ feast. Philip Dyne has confessed and claimed sanctuary in St Peter’s church, but he must leave the country. If he doesn’t, he’ll be declared an outlaw, his life forfeit.
Sir Baldwin Furnshill, Keeper of the King’s Peace, and his friend, Bailiff Simon Puttock, arrive at Lord Hugh de Courtenay’s castle at Tiverton for the feast. When a messenger arrives calling for the Coroner, Baldwin and Simon accompany him to view the body of Sir Gilbert of Carlisle, Despenser’s ambassador to Lord Hugh. Not far off lies a second corpse: the decapitated figure of Dyne. The Coroner is satisfied that Dyne killed the knight and was then murdered: Dyne was an outlaw, so he doesn’t merit the law’s attention, but Sir Baldwin feels too many questions are left unanswered. How could a weak, unarmed peasant kill a trained warrior? And if he did, what happened to Sir Gilbert’s horse – and his money?
When Baldwin and Simon are themselves viciously attacked, they know that there must be another explanation. A more sinister enemy is at large, someone with a powerful motive to kill. But there are so many suspects …
Although the plot has many twists and turns and Jecks tries to keep you guessing about who the murderer is, I think it was a little easy to figure out the murderer by the middle of the book. Despite this, Jecks has increasingly written more interesting books with better plot lines and better character development – this shows when you compare the first book (The Last Templar) with this one.
Jecks balances the right amount of background information with the plot. He gives just enough background information to interest you, but not too much to bore you. In the earlier books, I think the plot got lost amongst the details of the time period. Don’t get me wrong, I think historical accuracy is good, but I think that can overpower the plot of the book if there is too much of it.
I think you will enjoy The Traitor of St. Giles.