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The Chapel of Bones

By Michael Jecks

   Back in 1283 Exeter Cathedral was the scene of a horrible murder; now forty years of dark doings are afoot once again. A wealthy saddler has been killed and although there is no shortage of suspects it might have something to do with his involvement in the old murder. Baldwin and Simon are summoned to find out whodunit, and uncover more new crimes and a whole host of participants in the cathedral's forty-year-old one.

   Baldwin and Simon are fresh (perhaps not quite the right word) from their travels and once again their story has moved along. Simon is miserable in Dartmouth, and Baldwin is having marital problems showing that not only is this a series about murders but Michael Jecks knows how to keep the characters interesting and allows them room to grow and change. Gone utterly is the inappropriate Susanna Gregory style of humor, and if you want a cozy then look elsewhere for this is a grim tale of heightened but uncompromisingly gritty mediaeval life. All this plot and background detail make a longish book positively burst with story and vibrant life, and the pace never flags. I also liked the local color in the story (I live near Exeter) and applaud the author's idea of using a little-known but exciting episode in its history which even local people know little about. This is in direct contrast to the well-known and scary politics of the time, with Edward II and his turbulent reign making sure that Baldwin and Simon may be cursed to live in interesting times, but in Michael Jeck's hands it seems assured that they will also be interesting to read about.

The Book

Historical Crime [1323 Exeter, Devon, UK]
More at Amazon UK


NOTE: Some violence

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2005
© 2005