Friday, 18 January 2002

Michael Jecks: The Boy-Bishop's Glovemaker (2000)

Edition: Headline, 2000
Review number: 1045

I found this novel from Jecks' Simon Puttock series more difficult to get into than most of them; it doesn't seem to flow quite so easily. The setting is rather different, being the city of Exeter rather than the wilds of medieval Dartmoor, and this may have something to do with it.

The novel is a Christmas mystery, revolving around one of the quainter customs of the time. In what may well have been a descendant of the Roman Saturnalia festival, it was the practice in many cathedrals to elect one of the boy choristers as a pseudo bishop for the day just after Christmas; this (the Feast of the Innocents) was traditionally a day of riotous and boisterous misbehaviour. In Exeter, this celebration also included a gift of gloves by the cathedral to nominees of the bishop (the real bishop), and Baldwin and his friend Simon Puttock are both to be honoured. However, when they (fairly reluctantly) arrive in Exeter they are asked to help in the investigations into a murder in the cathedral close, and begin to see connections with other recent killings in the town, including that of the glover commissioned to make the ornate bejewelled gloves for the presentation.

Perhaps I was just not really in the mood for this kind of mystery. I don't think that The Boy-Bishop's Glovemaker is poorer than the rest of the series and I did at least become interested in the puzzle by the middle of the novel. One to try reading again in a couple of years.

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