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The Mad Monk of Gidleigh Paperback – Jun 2 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Headline (June 2 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755301692
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755301690
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 3 x 18 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 200 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,133,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Memorable characters, steadily absorbing period background...a commendable achievement."

From the Publisher

In this richly atmospheric series of medieval murder mysteries, Michael Jecks gives us tales steeped in intrigue and historical detail. Skillfully evoking the colorful, but often brutal tableaux of the Middle Ages, Jecks has drawn comparison with Ellis Peters. Now former Knight Templar Sir Baldwin Furnshill and Bailiff Simon Puttock, his savvy sleuths, are on the case again in another compelling, well–crafted tale.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
I bought this book last year to read on a plane home from Ireland, and never had the opportunity to open it. Today I'm home ill and could not face the thought of reading anything school or work related and so picked up this rather long (500 pages) mystery.

At first I had trouble getting into. In his desire to ensure the reader has sufficient grasp of Medieval history, Jecks gives so much detail it distracts from the story. However, eventually the twists and turns of plot, and the development of the characters leads the reader to pursue the story to the end.

The primary murder causing the story to unfold is that of a young woman named Mary. Not long after learning of her death I thought I had her murder solved, and although the facts that I had determined were correct, their outcome was not. It is a book full of intrigue, abuse of power, betrayal, mutiny and most of all surprises. Even the very last page contains a surprise.

One of the other unusual charcteristics of this particular novel involves the reader in trying to determine the hero. The two men, Simon and Baldwin, are nothing alike, and yet each is so committed to justice that they work in such tandem that I would often need to check who was speaking.

I think it is worth persevering through the first few chapters of the book to get to a very exciting resolution to the mystery--however, those chapters can be work.

I think another indication of its quality is the fact that I read it in just over half a day.
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By Marice Bezdek on June 6 2004
Format: Paperback
This is my first encounter with Jecks, and it will also be my last. The author belongs, with a few notable exceptions, to the "tell instead of show" school of writing, producing some really flat prose. The exceptions are his descriptions of husbands' love for their wives and his descriptions of the fugative monk's sufferings as he flees and is imprisoned.
More important than the style, the plot reads like a male author's fantasy world of sex and violence. Much of the mystery consists of surprising relevations, in a deus-ex-mechina fashion, about who fathered whom (the ending suprise is totally egregious and unmotivated, apparently existing only for its own sake), and the author apparently revels in descriptions of the villainous aristocrats' overdrawn cruelty and the long-drawn-out decisive battle.
I will give him credit for his portrayal of the helplessness of the non-powerful in the early years of the fourteenth century. In his negative view of medieval life, he and Edith Pargeter, a.k.a. Ellis Peters (author of the thirteenth century Brother Cadfael series) balance each other. However, he commits a historian's howler by making the early protagonist a monk; although the size of their estates in the fourtenth century led abbots and their agents into the world on monastery (and, notoriously, occasionally personal) business, monks were explicitly dedicated to retiring from the world to a life of prayer, and were a branch of clergy quite distinct from diocesan priests entrusted with the care of a flock as Father Mark was.
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By A Customer on March 19 2004
Format: Paperback
If you're here because you read all adventures of Brother Cadfael and you found, like I did, that you wanted more stories about medieval England then you have come to the right place!
Let me say that although the mystery in the story is sufficient, it's in the characters and in the reality of everyday life that the story comes alive. The author (who, btw, knows medieval history so well he plays with his inexperienced readers from time to time) is fascinated with the imbalance of power between the serfs and their masters: the nobles and the clergy. He describes with passion the abuse of power perpetrated by the not-so-noble knights on the submissive local serfs. The knights think themselves invulnerable as they believe they have the support of the most powerful family in the kingdom. Yet, their plotting leaves them with no real friends and their newly acquired castle is guarded by hired soldiers who have their own agenda in mind.
A girl is viciously murdered and the priest who had an affair with her is accused, but soon we find out he's not guilty of killing her and her death is somehow tied to another murder of a man whom she has never known, but who held some secrets of the lord of the castle. Into that complicated web of local gossip and vicious plotting for yet more power Sir Baldwin arrives. He's an ex-Templar, now married and for the first time since the destruction of his Order daring to be happy. He's been charged by the king with finding the truth. He's a worldly man, a little cynical from his experiences, yet a kind man despite his ruling manner. By the time he's figured out the depth of evil contained in the murder mystery the reader will believe the medieval times were indeed very dark. Yet, things are at their darkest just before sunrise.
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Format: Paperback
Fans of historical mysteries will find the detailed medieval setting of this mystery to prove most realistic and satisfying. Mary and her unborn child are brutally murdered, and villagers place the blame on a priest who must flee his home for a crime he didn't commit. It's 1323, and the young priest faces some of his greatest challenges in this moving mystery.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 14 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
At the end, everything is as it should be... March 19 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you're here because you read all adventures of Brother Cadfael and you found, like I did, that you wanted more stories about medieval England then you have come to the right place!
Let me say that although the mystery in the story is sufficient, it's in the characters and in the reality of everyday life that the story comes alive. The author (who, btw, knows medieval history so well he plays with his inexperienced readers from time to time) is fascinated with the imbalance of power between the serfs and their masters: the nobles and the clergy. He describes with passion the abuse of power perpetrated by the not-so-noble knights on the submissive local serfs. The knights think themselves invulnerable as they believe they have the support of the most powerful family in the kingdom. Yet, their plotting leaves them with no real friends and their newly acquired castle is guarded by hired soldiers who have their own agenda in mind.
A girl is viciously murdered and the priest who had an affair with her is accused, but soon we find out he's not guilty of killing her and her death is somehow tied to another murder of a man whom she has never known, but who held some secrets of the lord of the castle. Into that complicated web of local gossip and vicious plotting for yet more power Sir Baldwin arrives. He's an ex-Templar, now married and for the first time since the destruction of his Order daring to be happy. He's been charged by the king with finding the truth. He's a worldly man, a little cynical from his experiences, yet a kind man despite his ruling manner. By the time he's figured out the depth of evil contained in the murder mystery the reader will believe the medieval times were indeed very dark. Yet, things are at their darkest just before sunrise. It's the good act that redeems the cruel man and there is no act that can't be redeemed. We see the men get up and live their simple lives in dignity because the justice was done just as our knight marches off on a pilgrimage to pay for his mistake.
I think Brother Cadfael would say "things are as they should be."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Small actions bring big consequences Dec 3 2008
By L. J. Roberts - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
First Sentence: In the darkened room, the man's shattered body gave a final convulsive jerk.

Sir Baldwin Furnshill, Keeper of the King's Peace, and Bailiff Simon Puttock must leave their families and travel to the village of Gidleigh. The beautiful daughter of the town's miller has been found dead, the young monk, by whom she was pregnant, the obvious suspect. This wouldn't have involved Simon but that a miner has also died, and that is under his jurisdiction.

Upon their arrival at Wonson Manor, they find Sir Ralph is the new owner and his son Esmon in charge of a band of mercenary soldiers. Tension in the village increases as truths are exposed and more die.

Jecks is one of the better historical writers. There is excellent attention to period detail and a very strong sense of time and place.

All the characters are fully dimensional and well drawn. I like that the two protagonists' lives have changed through the series. They come through as real people with great strengths and realistic weaknesses and consequences. They are not the only characters who change, others do as well.

The story is very well plotted. Just when I thought I knew where it was going, it turned. I particularly liked that the point was made that small actions can have big consequences.

This was another very good book in an excellent series and I'm happy to know I've many more books to go.
A Difficult One for Sir Baldwin Aug. 22 2006
By J. Chippindale - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Michael Jecks gave up a career in the computer industry when he began writing the internationally successful Templar series. Well all I can say is the Computer Industries loss is the reader's gain. He has now written about a score of the Knights Templar mystery books featuring Sir Baldwin de Furnshill and Bailiff Simon Puttock and there are more to follow. Michael's books are full of intrigue and mystery and they are particularly well researched. Mr. Jecks lives in the area he writes about and I am sure this must assist him a great deal with his background research.

Alone on the edge of Dartmoor, in a windswept chapel who could blame young priest, Mark, for seeking affection from the local miller's daughter, Mary? But soon his world will come crashing around his ears. Mary's body is found, she has been stabbed. They have been seen together and the young priest becomes the No. 1 suspect. When Mary's body is examined it becomes obvious that she was pregnant and this only seems to confirm Mark's guilt.

Keeper of the King's Peace Sir Baldwin and Bailiff Simon arrive to investigate and soon begin to have their doubts about the guilt of the priest. Mary it seems had many admirers. Could it not have been one of them who had murdered her in a fit of jealous rage. Also her father the miller is acting increasingly strangely and what exactly is the local Baron trying his best to hide from them. Finding the murderer will not be easy . . .
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
subpar Jan. 12 2008
By Rojogaix - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read all previous books in this series, and find this to be the least laudable. It is as wordy as Dickens with descriptions of place unnecessarily and inappropriately long. Too much text is spent in ascription of emotions and attitudes to the characters--most of which are either repetitious or irritatingly conventional and perfunctory (or both).
I found the plot too complex for the novel's perameters. Normally, Jecks's establishes and develops several subplots, then ties them all together in a grand climax. This had too many small loose ends which had to be dealt with at the end, producing a leaden climax--so different from his usual neat and powerful conlusions.
I wish to make clear that I like reading Michael Jecks and will continue to read the series. It's just that at times I thought this one might have been written by someone else.
Robert Gaines 1/13/08
Mad Monk of Gidleigh Nov. 3 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you have any interest in the medieval period, as does my wife, this series makes the lives of ordinary people come vibrantly alive again. The characters became her old friends, the plot is absorbing, and once she discovered this series, she galloped madly through it, dragging me along with her. I have enjoyed the ride. Mad Monk of Gidleigh was particularly absorbing.


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