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Belladonna at Belstone

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About the Author

Michael Jecks gave up a career in the computer industry to concentrate on writing and the study of medieval history, especially that of Devon and Cornwall. He and his wife now live in northern Dartmoor.


When Moll, a young nun, dies mysteriously at St. Mary's Priory in Belstone, England, the suffragan bishop orders Sir Baldwin de Furnshill, Keeper of the King's Peace, to investigate. Together with Bailiff Simon Puttock, his assistant in seven other puzzles in Jecks's delightful medieval series (The Last Templar, The Crediton Killings, etc.), Baldwin travels to Belstone, which is in a disgraceful state; greed, drunkenness and sexual license have all but destroyed the spirituality of its inhabitants. Baldwin and Puttock learn that Moll was a pious girl, who, shocked at Belstone's corruption, had seen it as her sacred mission to cleanse the priory. If saints are not easy to live with, Moll had been no exception: ever-so-sweetly, she had pointed out the considerable faults of her companions, urging each to confess and reform. No wonder that when she was found dead in the infirmary after having been bled for a migraine, no one was sorry. And indeed Moll's death, the investigators realize, was no accident. Two more novices will die before--in a stunning denouement--the author reveals the killer, who turns out to be one of the few likeable characters in this wickedly amusing romp. If the prose is sometimes choppy and repetitious, perhaps it is due to the proliferation of bells in the story, starting with the title. Throughout, bells summon nuns and clerics to prayer at regular intervals, day and night. One wonders when they find time for so much mischief. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

'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 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 '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 'A compelling mystery book and one to cherish' -- CRIME TIME

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