No Law in the Land
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About the Author
Michael Jecks gave up a career in the computer industry to concentrate on his writing. He is the founder of Medieval Murderers, has been Chairman of the Crime Writers' Association, and helped create the Historical Writers' Association. Keen to help new writers, for some years he organised the Debut Dagger competition, and is now organising the AsparaWriting festival for new writers at Evesham. He has judged many prizes, including the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger. Michael is an international speaker on writing and for business. He lives with his wife, children and dogs in northern Dartmoor.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
England is in turmoil. Sir Hugh le Dispenser, the King's special friend, has been gaining power and wealth by exploiting his position with the King. Sir Hugh and his supporters have run roughshod over the law as they take whatever they desire. The people of England tire of their lawlessness.
In this installment of the series, Sir Baldwin and Simon have returned from France. They risk the anger of the king by informing him that his wife, Isabella, has defied him by remaining in France with their son. Sir Hugh wishes to force Simon to do his bidding by having his daughter kidnapped and her husband arrested for treason.
When Baldwin and Simon return home, they become involved in the investigation of a mass murder. A large party of travelers has been slaughtered, and the silver they were escorting has been stolen. It soon becomes apparent that Dispenser's supporters are involved with this murder, and several more. And that they are also involved with Simon's daughter's kidnapping.
Can Sir Baldwin and Simon solve the mystery, and bring the guilty to justice? Can they rescue Simon's daughter? And can they avoid raising the ire of Sir Hugh le Dispenser?
I really enjoy Jeck's novels. Each one is a complete story. And there are plot elements which continue through several novels. The novels proceed in chronological order. This novel takes place in October and November of 1325. (spoiler alert: The evil Sir Hugh has only a year to live.)
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.
Few comments, I found it a little bit of a struggle trying to keep all the various characters/locations/plots together at times. It jumped around quite a bit and without any real familiarity (and reading it in stages over about a week) I struggled to keep everything straight a little at times.
Secondly, although it is described as a mystery there is precious little in it that is remotely mysterious. You pretty much know who does what and why most of the time.
Lastly, I don't know what Publisher's Weekly is talking about - the 'period language' is almost unnoticeable.
In all it is an interesting read for lovers of historical fiction and if you can keep all the threads properly intertwined you should enjoy it.