Fan favorites Furnshill and Puttock return in this wonderfully-done 14th Century murder mystery which finds our heroes involved in murder most foul at the court of king Edward II. DISPENSATION OF DEATH shows Michael Jecks at the peak of his abilities, fashioning yet another fascinating, headscratching mystery peopled by memorable characters and wrapped up in evocative period detail.
This time around, Jecks has his heroes reluctantly investigating a double murder and possible assassination attempt on Queen Isabella. Yet murderers are the least of Furnshill and Puttock's worries as they find themselves caught in a viper's den of palace intrigue. The very qualities that endear those two characters to readers - loyalty, honor, friendship and honesty - are nowhere in evidence at Edward's court. Before Furnshill unravels the mystery, he will have found himself grappeling with Hugh le Despenser, Edward's chief advisor and lover.
While DISPENSATION OF DEATH presents a marvelously-crafted mystery that keeps readers guessing till the end, it is the characters in the novel that make the book such a page-turner. Heartless, ambitious and totally amoral, Despenser is a monster yet Jecks fashions him into a believable if despicable human being. Likewise the skillfully drawn characters of Edward, Isabella, Bishop Stapledon, etc. fascinate yet they too have dark sides that are only revealed at the end of the book.
DISPENSATION OF DEATH tops out at 491 pages yet the text flows smoothly and the reader is effortlessly drawn into the developing story. Justice - of a sorts - triumphs in the end but it seems a hollow victory. The true villains remain in power, the intrigue continues. Highly recommended.