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The Malice of Unnatural Death (Knights Templar Mystery) [Hardcover]

Michael Jecks
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Dec 2006 Knights Templar Mystery
The country's number one author of medieval murder mysteries brings us a riveting tale of murder and intrigue in the King's Court. It is 1324, and the kingdom is in uproar. Escaping from the Tower, Roger Mortimer - the King's most hated enemy - makes his way to France, and hires an assassin to murder the King. But just as his plans begin to succeed, the plot is uncovered, and the assassin flees the city. Then the body of a local craftsman and that of a King's messenger are found in the city's streets and Sir Baldwin de Furnshill, the Keeper of the King's Peace and his friend Bailiff Simon Puttock, are asked by the Bishop to find out who was responsible. The dead messenger was carrying a dangerous secret and the Bishop is desperate to have his message returned to him before anyone else discovers its contents. Baldwin and Simon are reluctant to get involved, but the politics of the nation and of their patrons are growing ever more insistent, and the two must find the murderer before he can strike again. But when murderers can use magic, no one is safe...


Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Book Publishing; First Edition edition (4 Dec 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755332768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755332762
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.7 x 4.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,221,037 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

"Enough 14th-century English malice and murder to keep several intrepid investigators hard at work." --"Kirkus Reviews"

Book Description

The twenty-second novel Knights Templar mystery is a riveting tale of murder and intrigue in the King's Court --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best in the Series 13 Dec 2006
By J. Chippindale TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
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.

1324, and there is much unrest in the England. The King has many enemies but the foremost among them Roger Mortimer has escaped from London's supposedly impregnable Tower. He has escaped to France and is making his plans to murder the King. But just as it seems his plans will succeed, the plot is uncovered and the hired assassin escapes the city.

Then the body of a local man and that of a King's messenger are in found in the streets of the city. The Bishop calls upon Sir Baldwin and his long time associate and friend, Bailiff Simon Puttock, to investigate the deaths and bring the culprit to justice. The messenger was carrying a dangerous secret and the Bishop is overwrought at the thought that it may fall into the wrong hands. Before it can be returned to his safe keeping. Sir Baldwin is reluctant to get involved, but he is a staunch royalist and will do anything within his power to protect his King and country. Can the pair find the murderer before he strikes again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best in the Series 22 Feb 2008
By J. Chippindale TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio Cassette
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.

1324, and there is much unrest in the England. The King has many enemies but the foremost among them Roger Mortimer has escaped from London's supposedly impregnable Tower. He has escaped to France and is making his plans to murder the King. But just as it seems his plans will succeed, the plot is uncovered and the hired assassin escapes the city.

Then the body of a local man and that of a King's messenger are in found in the streets of the city. The Bishop calls upon Sir Baldwin and his long time associate and friend, Bailiff Simon Puttock, to investigate the deaths and bring the culprit to justice. The messenger was carrying a dangerous secret and the Bishop is overwrought at the thought that it may fall into the wrong hands. Before it can be returned to his safe keeping. Sir Baldwin is reluctant to get involved, but he is a staunch royalist and will do anything within his power to protect his King and country. Can the pair find the murderer before he strikes again.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exeter intrigue.. 13 Mar 2013
By John D
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Once again Michael Jecks has written a Templar novel up to the high standard we have come to expect. The action centres around Exeter and the Coroner, Sir Richard de Welles, is on hand to aid Simon and Sir Baldwin with their investigations. Thoroughly engrossing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great Jecks offering 6 May 2007
By Laurie A. Atkinson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This reader has long wondered how Sir Baldwin was going to continue his disdain for national politics, especially in view of his friendship with Walter Stapleton, a prominent figure in the reign of Edward II. This one goes out a bit on a limb by postiing that curse magic is real and that Bishop Walter, as well as those despicable figures, the elder and younger Despencers, and even the King himself would be the target of a well-financed attempt by a necromancer. There is all the suspense, action, and convoluted plot that we have come to expect of Mr. Jecks, and at least one guessed-at, but never quite thought though surprise. Highly recommended, as are all the series. BTW, it is best to read them in order, I have found. Start with "The Last Templar," if you haven't already.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Should Have a 6th Star! 19 Mar 2007
By Bookaholic - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Jecks continues in his excellent murder mystery series, but has gone up a step adding even more intrigue to the mix. Get this one now is my best recommendation. Jecks knows his history as well as his mystery and weaves a time piece work, Medieval, that is certain to keep you riveted to the pages. There are far to many authors that pretend to write period work that fall short of the mark for both the period and the mystery. I think that a truly good author deserves a proper review and Jecks is one of the few these days.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jecks has the period down 3 Aug 2007
By Ralph E. Self - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Jecks consistantly delivers a great story. His charters blend in perfectly with the real people of the period. I have enjoyed all of his books and always look forward to the next one. He does not disapoint.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Furnshill & Puttock on the Case Once Again! 22 Dec 2007
By Michael OConnor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Michael Jecks, one of the two best authors of English medieval murder mysteries, weighs in with this long-ish tale precipitated by the murder of a King's Messenger in the city of Exeter. Baldwin de Furnshill and Simon Puttock, the 14th Century's Holmes-and-Watson, are brought in to unravel the mystery.

Trying to make sense of the crime they uncover a conspiracy to murder the king using a necromancer's black magic. Intertwined in this are sub-plots involving a servant girl's unrequited love, the lingering after-effects of a devastating fire, in-fighting over a vacant abbacy and so on. In other words, a typical Michael Jenks potboiler!

There have been about 20+ Knights Templar mysteries and, as with the others, MALICE OF UNNATURAL DEATH is notable for its period detail, character development and puzzling mystery. At 512 pages, it's longer than most of the other titles in the series and you need to pay attention to the goings-on. I confess I had to occasionally check the 'Cast of Characters' page to make sure of who was doing what to whom but Jecks does a good job of keeping the momentum going and also of juggling the various sub-plots.

Murder mystery fans will welcome this latest outing by two beloved - and very human - characters!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars confusing 19 Nov 2007
By hydro - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Well, I guess certainly differ from the other reviewers. I found this book to be very confusing. Although I realize the author introduces several different plot threads and then pulls them together at the end, there were so many plot threads and so many characters I just couldn't keep them straight. I finally gave up and returned the book to the library, only half read.
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