How does Michael Jecks do it? Here we are 27 titles into the Knights Templar series and he's still cranking out crackerjack murder mysteries set in 14th Century England. I've read most of the books in the series but it's been a while since I've had a fix of Furnshill/Puttock. Starting in on NO LAW IN THE LAND, it wasn't long before Jecks had transported me back to Devon in 1325 just in time for some thoroughly nasty doings.
As with earlier books in the series, NO LAW IN THE LAND finds England in chaos, erratically ruled by Edward II, who has ongoing problems with the French and rebellious knights not to mention his wife. Edward's closest friend and advisor, the power-hungry Sir Hugh le Despenser, is ever scheming to enlarge his power and wealth. Against this backdrop of turmoil, murder most foul occurs when a band of travellers - men, women and children - are brutally slaughtered. The Furnshill/Puttock team is called upon to investigate, aided by Sir Richard de Welles, coroner of Lifton. As Furnshill and Puttock unravel the mystery, they realize there's more sinister elements at play involving Despenser, the outlaw knight Sir Robert de Traci and his psychotic son Basil, two less-than-pure monks vying for an abbacy and other assorted villains. Attempting to solve the attack on the travellers and subsequent murders, Puttock discovers his family has been targeted as part of Despenser's larger machinations. Jecks nicely juggles the various plot elements till the truth is finally revealed.
NO LAW IN THE LAND is wonderfully done, intricately plotted and filled with interesting - if often despicable - characters. He effortlessly immerses his readers in life in 14th Century England, a harsh existence yet one populated by honest and honorable men and women who are struggling to survive.
I enjoyed NO LAW IN THE LAND. Like the rest of the series, you have to pay attention as Jecks interweaves the various plotlines together to make a wonderfully puzzling medieval murder mystery. Recommended.