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Belladonna at Belstone (Knights Templar) [Paperback]

Michael Jecks
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

1 Jun 2000 Knights Templar (Book 8)
It's 1321 and Lady Elizabeth of Topsham, prioress of St Mary's, is fighting to retain her position in the face of an accusation from Sister Margherita, the treasurer, that she has given much-needed funds to the new vicar, a man she often sees alone - at night. Many of the nuns are convinced that Margherita would make a better prioress - especially now a young nun has been found murdered on her sickbed. Sir Baldwin Furnshill, Keeper of the King's Peace and his old friend Bailiff Simon Puttock are summoned to investigate and when a second nun is murdered, they find themselves facing their most difficult case yet.

Frequently Bought Together

Belladonna at Belstone (Knights Templar) + Squire Throwleigh's Heir (A Medieval West Country Mystery) + The Traitor of St Giles (Medieval West Country Mysteries)
Price For All Three: £18.40

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Headline; New Ed edition (1 Jun 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747263612
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747263616
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 11.1 x 17.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 375,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Who is this guy Jecks?

Michael was a moderate student and early on, being a callow youth, decided on a career as an actuary. This decision was based solely on the fact that he heard it was the highest paid profession. Well, he had a father who was one, and a brother, too, but the money certainly helped.
Not realizing that a standard definition of an actuary is "someone who finds accountancy too exciting", he achieved the relevant grades at A level and wandered off to City University, London. There, he excelled - as bar chairman - but not at actuarial studies. Firmly convinced that his course was incomprehensible (Life & Other Contingencies? Advanced Statistics? Programming in Pascal?) and other parts were designed by knaves, cretins and the criminally insane (Economics), he left the course after failing every exam for two years.

With the glittering example of a second, unqualified, brother who earned very good money, had a bonus scheme, free car, free petrol, expense account and free holiday each year, Michael decided to follow this brother into computer sales.
Joining one company selling "office automation" from the back of Gray's Inn Road (typewriters), he soon progressed to a company selling personal computers. Especially the ACT Sirius. He left and set up a division of PC sales for City of London Computer Services, only to lose his job when a second partner, who didn't believe PCs would take off, returned from a long holiday.
Following that, Michael went to a new start-up to help form Electronic Office Services. When that firm collapsed (with one director disappearing, apparently to the Bahamas with all the company's money), Michael was left without a job.
He saw an advert for an interview with a company called Wordplex, and went to see the company at an open day in a London hotel. After a lengthy interview process, which involved five formal meetings, he was accepted.
Later he heard he had been taken on because he was "the only twenty-one year old I've ever seen turn up to a job interview smoking a pipe, you berk" - (Dick Houghton, Regional Director, Wordplex, 1981).
For the next four years, Michael sold Wordplex systems as one of a hundred salesmen in the UK. He was consistently one of the top salespeople in the country, and as a result was headhunted to join Wang Laboratories in 1985.
Wang was a challenging company. All salespeople who did not achieve their monthly targets at least once in every three months were summarily dismissed. Michael survived until 1990, when Wang collapsed, and Michael took a job with Rank Xerox. This interesting job involved selling equipment that was roughly eight years out of date. There he lasted six months before being asked to join NBI, a Colorado-based firm created by ingesters of certain illegal substances, who (out of respect for the success of IBM, ICL, NCR and ACT) named their business: Nothing But Initials.
The company closed their international operations three months after Michael joined them.
At a loose end once more, Michael looked to a job with a more secure future. Thus it was that he entered the leasing business. At the time no leasing salesman could earn less than £100,000 per annum. Michael joined a new firm called Celsius Computer Services, and in the first three months sold £1.25 million of business. Then Atlantic Leasing crashed and the entire market fell with it. Michael was unemployed without redundancy - again.
Moving to safer shores with software sales, Michael joined IBM's largest software supplier, Bluebird. They went bust a year later (owing him a lot).

Out of Computing, Into Writing
It was a while later, after 13 jobs in 13 years, that Michael finally took the hint. He found himself at the beginning of 1994 once more without a job, and so he sat down to decide on a new course. He had no qualifications, but he knew he loved reading. With that conviction, he began to write, becoming a full-time homeworker while his wife went to work and supported their (exorbitant) mortgage.
Those were interesting times.
In three months, Michael worked seven days a week, fourteen hours a day. In that time he wrote a modern day thriller, a management book on how to get work when made redundant (he had experience of that) and a historical crime novel that was to become The Last Templar.
The thriller was snapped up by Bantam over the phone - and rejected two days later in writing because it was all about the IRA, and they had just agreed their first ceasefire. The second book was rejected by his agent because her husband had recently left her for an IBM Systems Engineer. She wanted nothing to do with books about computers or computer people, and if Michael's book could help them find contentment and employment, she was content to see it burned.

Since 1995 and the launch of The Last Templar, Michael has been a persistent and prolific author. City of Fiends was the 31st story in the series that follows the lives of Sir Baldwin de Furnshill, a renegade Templar, and his friend Bailiff Simon Puttock through the miserable period of famine, war and disease that was the first half of the fourteenth century.
The series is the first to tell the tale of that time.
It charts the incompetent reign of King Edward II, the appalling avarice and criminality of his chief advisers, Sir Hugh le Despenser and (sadly) Bishop Walter II of Exeter; then the war against France and the desertion of Edward by his wife Isabella, and her return with a small army to remove him from the throne.
However it is not merely a crime series. The whole of the Kingdom was changing: after fifty years the language of authority stopped being French and became English; the feudal system was broken; farming was becoming efficient and organised; new towns were springing up - and the king was losing control of law-making and even war-making. It was probably the period in which England changed the most, apart from perhaps the fifty years post World War II.

Over the years, the series has sold well in the UK and America, with translations into Dutch, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Italian, and many other countries.
In America it has been taken on by many schools as a means of imparting accurate social history. It has revived interest in Edward II's reign, and has made Michael friends all across the globe.
With the publication of Templar's Acre in 2013, which was a prequel to the series, Michael felt it was time to take a break. As a result, he wrote ACT OF VENGEANCE, a modern day spy thriller, which received the comment from Lee Child who said it was "An instant classic British spy novel - mature, thoughtful, and intelligent ... but also raw enough for our modern times.  Highly recommended."

Michael has made many friends with authors in the medieval period. He founded Medieval Murderers as a performance group, and soon had the idea that the group should write a collaborative novel. This collection of linked novellas was published as Tainted Relic by Simon & Schuster. DEADLIEST SIN is the tenth anniversary edition, published in 2014
As well as the Templar Series and Medieval Murderers, Michael has compiled ebook collections of his short stories. FOR THE LOVE OF OLD BONES and NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM have all the short stories previously published in collections from Maxim Jakubowski, Mike Ashley and the Crime Writers' Association.
Michael is now writing a thrilling trilogy based on the lives of a vintaine (platoon) of archers during the early years of the Hundred Years War. FIELDS OF GLORY, the first, was published in 2014.

Michael has long had an interest in helping new writers, and for two years he organised the Debut Dagger for the Crime Writers' Association, helping five authors win their first publishing contracts as a result.
In 2004 he was elected as Chairman of the CWA, and afterwards he accepted a post as judge on the CWA/Ian Fleming Steel Dagger award, on which he served for three years. More recently he has been working with the International Thriller Writers and in 2011 he helped create the Historical Writer's Association, and remains on the organising committee.
In 2007 Michael was proud to be asked to collaborate with Conway Stewart to produce the Michael Jecks fountain pen. Other honours include being invited as the International Guest of Honour at the Bloody Words gala 2014, to being the Grand Master of the first parade of the 2014 Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Michael is a regular speaker about the Knights Templar, the end of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, about writing and publishing, and about finding work. He is also keen to help those who are now going through the latest recession. He endured enough hardship, and lost all his savings, during the last recession, and understands what it means to risk losing everything.

An enthusiastic photographer and watercolourist, Michael can often be seen walking across Dartmoor where he lives, gaining inspiration into the lives of our ancestors for his stories. When relaxing he can usually be found clad in white in a pub near you before dancing mad stick Morris.

For more on Michael Jecks, check out writerlywitterings.com, look him up at writerlywitterings on YouTube, check his pictures on Flickr.com/photos/Michael_Jecks, like his page on FaceBook, or check for him on Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and all other social media!

Product Description

Review

Jecks draws his characters with a craftsman's hand, evokes atmosphere with the touch of an old master and keeps you wriggling on the hook of suspense as skilfully as Christie at her best. Enjoyable to the very end (NORTHERN ECHO)

'A compelling mystery book and one to cherish' Crime Time

'A commendable achievement' Kirkus Reviews

'Wickedly exciting' Newcastle Evening Chronicle

'Jecks draws his characters with a craftsman's hand, evokes atmosphere with the touch of an old master and keeps you wriggling on the hook of suspense as skilfully as Christie at her best. Enjoyable to the very end' Northern Echo



Wickedly exciting (NEWCASTLE EVENING CHRONICLE)

SQUIRE THROWLEIGH'S HEIR:

'An inventive plot, memorable characters, steadily absorbing period background' Kirkus Reviews

'SQUIRE THROWLEIGH'S HEIR...[is] one of the most wickedly plotted medieval mystery novels' The Times

'This worthy series...Jecks does his usual skillful job' Publishers Weekly

'Like all Jecks's tales, this one is a nicely detailed and tightly argued, with involving action and memorable characters. The whole series belongs in any collection where historicals are popular' Library Journal

'Jecks has a real knack of bringing to life the medieval era of the West Country...SQUIRE THROWLEIGH'S HEIR has enough twists and turns to satisfy everybody... An excellent adddtion to the series' Shots

'A very well told story with a violent yet convincing plot. Jecks succeeds in writing both a book which smells of the Middle Ages and yet is a detective story. No mean feat.' Crime Time

'Enjoyable and clever' Crime Time



Praise for Michael Jecks:

"A neatly constructed tale . . ."

". . . an absorbing page-turner . . ."

"The combination of Jecks's historical research, his caring descriptions of

the Devon countryside, his neat way of drawing characters, are shown to their

best advantage in this book." SHOTS

'A tortuous and exciting plot... The construction of the story and the sense of period are excellent' Shots

'A gem of historical storytelling...authentic recreation of the modes and manners, superstitions and primitive fears that made up the colourful but brutal tableau of the Middle Ages' Northern Echo

'Girt about with a goodly helping of period authenticity...ends up with a thrilling cop and robber chase on horseback' Oxford Times

'A goodly tale in the vein of Cadfael, and equally enjoyable' Coventry Evening Telegraph

'Like Ellis Peters' Cadfael, Puttock is a carefully drawn character who combines the whodunnit format with a loving attention to detail, with lively, intriguing descriptions. It...will help you turn back the pages of history and enjoy the depth and texture of a long-vanished England' Croydon Advertiser

'A medieval mystery to rank with the best' Northern Echo

'Brisk medieval whodunnit' Literary Review

'Tremendously successful medieval mystery series' Sunday Independent

'Jecks' knowledge of medieval history is impressive and is used here to good effect' Crime Time



A compelling mystery book and one to cherish (CRIME TIME)

Book Description

The eighth mystery featuring Sir Baldwin Furnshill and Simon Puttock is superbly plotted and entertaining

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ongoing 13 Sep 2007
Format:Paperback
Michael Jecks is a superior story weaver who researches the history of the period exceedingly well. I was only introduced to his work last summer and had to catch up on on he had written. Note that I do a great deal of academic reading so it to a darn good story teller and historian to take me away from other works of a different genre. Both Jecks and Bernard Knight have given me many hours of pleasure both with their historical knowledge and ability to do terrific "who done it" where one is both entertained and doesn't necessarily know the answers to the plot after page three. Both of these authors are under rated and many readers are deprived of the joy of reading their works IMHO.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murder in the Priory 21 Aug 2006
By J. Chippindale TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
ichael 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.

It is 1321 and the prioress of St. Mary's, Lady Elizabeth Topham is fighting to retain her position as prioress in the face of almost overwhelming opposition. She has been accused by Sister Margherita, the treasurer at St. Mary's of giving much needed funds to the new vicar.

Many of the nuns are convinced that Margherita would make a better prioress, especially now that it is known that a young nun named Moll was murdered in her sick bed.

Sir Baldwin and Simon are summoned to investigate and it quickly becomes evident that the vows of obedience, chastity and poverty are being broken with alarming frequency. Then a second nun is murdered and the two men face one of their most puzzling assignments.
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Format:Paperback
On the bad side there are a lot of characters and with no voice mannerisms it is difficult to distinguish them, and if you are reading this in short bursts it can be hard to follow the significance of comments and the changing relationships.
On the plus side there is a cast of characters at the beginning which helps understanding, and you get rich detail about the life of a combined convent/monastery which is fascinating in itself. I suspect they weren't all full of such 'sin' though, as it feels at times like there is no one immune or uninvolved.
Well plotted, with plenty of red herrings before the mystery is solved, and I still enjoy the much wider story arc of the hero settling down to married life.
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