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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fans of well-researched historicals will welcome Jecks's 26th Knights Templar mystery (after 2008's The Prophecy of Death). In 1325, England's Edward II prepares to pay homage to the French king, Charles IV, in order to retain two precious territories in France. At the last minute, Edward decides to send his willful and untested teenage son in his place, with orders to Sir Baldwin de Furnshill and Baldwin's longtime friend, Simon Puttock, to watch over his son on the journey. In Paris, Queen Isabella, Charles's sister and Edward's wife, is trying to keep the peace, though she bitterly resents her husband's relationship with his intimate adviser, Sir Hugh le Despenser. Meanwhile, the Procureur of Paris, Jean de Poissy, has two murders to investigate—that of a man who was on a mysterious visit to the Louvre palace, and that of a naked woman found near the palace. Frequent scene shifts help move the complex, multilayered plot. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Fans of well-researched historicals will welcome Jeck's 26th Knights Templar mystery."  —Publishers Weekly

"The whole series belongs in any collection where historicals are popular."  —Library Journal

"Memorable characters, steadily absorbing period background . . . a commendable achievement."  —Kirkus Reviews

"Really difficult to put down."  —Historical Novels Review

"Each page is densely packed with cuckolding, coarseness, lewdness, lechery, gore galore, but also with nobility. A heady mix."  —North Devon Journal

"A gem of historical storytelling."  —Northern Echo

"Complicated, well-populated, written with cross-cutting gusto, and accompanied by scholarly extras."  —Ellery Queen

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Product Details

  • Series: Knights Templar
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Book Publishing; Reprint edition (January 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755344170
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755344178
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 1.2 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,177,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

NOTES: Everything About Michael Jecks

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.

Of course, if you want to contact him or link on social media, you can find him at, he's on YouTube as writerlywitterer, on LinkedIn, he is at, at, on Instagram, Pinterest and everywhere else too! He appreciates hearing from readers, so do please contact him.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By S. Heltzel on December 6, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I started with one of the later books in The Templar Mysteries, The Templar, the Queen and her Lover.
Loved this book so much, I started reading the whole series.

Well written, superbly researched, it gives you a believable inside of medieval life.
This is a series, that I highly highly recommend.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Little on January 24, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jecks' style is really showing the polish that practice and diligent research can bring. The story is very smooth, with intrigue going on at several different levels. If you want to--or have to--learn the history of 14th-century England, this is the way to do it--a good, gripping tale set against an historically accurate background.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By E. Clinton on July 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
This mystery, part of a long series by Michael Jecks, is well-researched and carefully plotted. This was my introduction to the series about two English Knights who solve crimes in the murky Middle Ages reign of Edward II. This mystery was set in 1325 and it concerns multiple killings that occurred in Paris, France near the palace of the French King, Charles IV.

What made this book so entertaining is that many of the major characters, King Charles IV of France, King Edward II of England, Sir Hugh le Despenser, Roger de Mortimer, Bishop Walter Stapledon, Queen Isabella of France, were real people who lived during 1325 and did the things that are set forth in the book. In 1325 Queen Isabella was on a diplomatic mission from England to France. (The French King was her brother). When Edward II ordered her to return, she refused.

The series will continue and eventually cover the 1326 invasion of England by Queen Isabella and Roger de Mortimer. I can't wait to read more books in this series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael S. Kraus on April 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
The year is 1325. King Edward rules England with his "special friend": the avaricious Hugh Despenser. His wife, Queen Isabella, is in Paris on a diplomatic mission. She refuses to return to England until the King rids himself of Despenser. The King sends his son, Prince Edward, to complete the mission and eventually return the Queen to England.

Our main character, Sir Baldwin de Furnshill, and his companion, Simon Puttock, are to accompany and protect the Prince. As the story evolves, there is political intrigue and treason. We learn about the seamy underside of Paris. And of course there are murders.

Sir Baldwin has a secret in his past. He was once a member of the Knights Templar. Only by sheer luck did he avoid arrest and torture. On that fateful day whey the King of France accused the Knights of heresy, Baldwin was away from the Temple. When he finally made his way back to his home in England, Baldwin became a Keeper of the King's Peace. In his position, he investigates unusual deaths, and seeks justice for those who deserve it.

This novel is the 26th of Jeck's Knights Templar mystery series. The books procede in chronological order. They are consistant with the actual history of England in the 14th century. Jeck's books are terrific historical fiction novels. The plots are tangled and deceptive. The reader must wait until the final chapter to find out "who dun it".

If you are interested in English history, or just enjoy a well told murder mystery, you'll enjoy The King of Thieves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By I should be at the gym on March 1, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Another solid Jecks' achievement, "The King of Thieves" is one of the darker yarns (and the 26th) in his long-running series of 14th-century murder mysteries, The Knights Templar Mysteries. But the darkness is not gratuitous. It reflects the cruel and rough criminal underworld of early 1300's Paris to which the reader is exposed. Jecks populates "Thieves" some particularly interesting supporting characters, including Jacquot (a criminal), Amelie (a prostitute), Helias (a brothel keeper) and Jean de Poissy (a Parisian prosecutor) who is one of the best supporting characters Jecks has crafted since Sir Baldwin de Furnshill--the main character, our hero and crime-solver--was first called from Devon to Westminster Palace and met the feckless King Edward II and his avaricious confidant Hugh le Despenser (in the 23rd title of the series, "The Dispensation of Death.") What is more, events in this title take dark turns for Bishop Stapleton, too--a major reoccurring character.
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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed reading the 5 star reviews. All too many readers will appreciate an author like Jecks, who puts a great deal of energy into his primary source historical research and then tells a great tale in the historical context, but not take a few minutes to say why they enjoyed the read. So thanks to the readers who took the time to encourage friends and others to try Jecks. Yes, I do have all of his titles. I am not uncritical of him but the majority of any of his titles are just good writing and provide hours of good reading. I have seen a few reviews that were not laudatory but often get the sense that the writers of those particular reviews may have not liked the history derived from primary sources. That is not an excuse to pan good story telling.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on May 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Michael Jecks does a great job in his Templar series. This is another great example. Great turnaround.
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