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The Crediton Killings
Cover of The Crediton Killings
The Crediton Killings
Knights Templar Mystery Series, Book 4
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The Knights Templar

They were warrior monks, dedicated to the protection of pilgrims in the Holy Land—until an avaricious king who wanted their wealth savagely destroyed the order. One knight, however, escaped the stake, vowing justice for his innocent murdered brothers.

An Ill Wind

The arrival of the eminent Bishop of Exeter to the small Devonshire town of Crediton—coupled with the unwanted appearance of a particularly unsavory band of mercenary soldiers—has made life exceedingly difficult for Simon Puttock, bailiff of Lydford, and ex-Knight Templar Baldwin Furnshill, Keeper of the King's Peace. But it is the grim discovery of the body of a young girl hidden in a chest that unleashes a village-wide plague of fear and suspicion. Stemming the chaos may be beyond the powers of two dedicated upholders of the law. For the Crediton killings have only just begun—and each murder to follow threatens to be more heinous and baffling than the one before.

The Knights Templar

They were warrior monks, dedicated to the protection of pilgrims in the Holy Land—until an avaricious king who wanted their wealth savagely destroyed the order. One knight, however, escaped the stake, vowing justice for his innocent murdered brothers.

An Ill Wind

The arrival of the eminent Bishop of Exeter to the small Devonshire town of Crediton—coupled with the unwanted appearance of a particularly unsavory band of mercenary soldiers—has made life exceedingly difficult for Simon Puttock, bailiff of Lydford, and ex-Knight Templar Baldwin Furnshill, Keeper of the King's Peace. But it is the grim discovery of the body of a young girl hidden in a chest that unleashes a village-wide plague of fear and suspicion. Stemming the chaos may be beyond the powers of two dedicated upholders of the law. For the Crediton killings have only just begun—and each murder to follow threatens to be more heinous and baffling than the one before.

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  • Chapter One

    When he halted his wagon, he grunted with the effort of clambering down from his perch, then winced as his sleeve caught on a splinter and the cloth ripped. The short, chubby man stood by his horse inspecting the tear disconsolately. That, for his wife, would be the last straw, he thought.

    Sensing her master's wandering attention, the horse dropped her head and began to crop the grass. The man glared at her; the sound of stems being ripped drowned out the faint musical tinkle at the extreme edge of his hearing. He slapped the horse, but she ignored him, used to his clouts and curses.

    He was not overly bothered. On the busy road from Exeter to Crediton there were all manner of travellers; this jingling sound probably heralded another fishmonger, or maybe a party of merchants. Shrugging, he flattened a horsefly that had settled on his forearm, then stood scratching idly at a flea bite on his neck, hands and nails stained orange-red from the blood, while he squinted back along the road.

    Other sounds distracted him too: the chattering of the birds in the trees, the chuckling and gurgling of the stream, and the rustling of the leaves overhead as the breeze gently teased the branches. He turned his eyes skyward, and wished that the draft would reach down and cool him. Even under the trees, the heat of the August sun was stifling.

    Kneeling by the stream, he scooped water over his head, rubbing it into his face, puffing and blowing with the sharp coolness. He came upright slowly, shaking his head, a stout man in his early thirties, round-faced and heavy-jowled, with a thin covering of sandy hair encircling his balding head. His belly demonstrated all too eloquently how fond he was of food and drink. He had an air of robust good humor, and was always ready with a smile and a joke for his customers; few left his shop near the shambles without grins on their faces. His business was still young, and he was keen to make sure that all who visited him wanted to return.

    Remembering why he had stopped in the first place, he lifted his tunic and turned away from the roadside, morosely contemplating the rippling stream before him while he gratefully emptied his bladder. He should never, he thought, have accepted all that ale from the farmer . . .

    He straightened his hose reflectively. His wife would be bound to be irritable after waiting so long. He had promised to be back quickly after picking up the two calves' carcasses which were now in the back of the wagon. He glanced at the sun and grimaced. It must be midafternoon at the earliest! Mary's tongue would be strengthened and matured with the passage of time like a strong cheese—and all her bitterness was sure to be focused on him.

    "Hah!" he muttered under his breath. "If a man can't take a drink with a friend when he's tired, what is the point of life?" Scratching at another flea bite on his chest, he lumbered back up into his seat and retrieved the reins, snapping them. His old horse tore up a last mouthful of grass and leaned forward in the traces, jolting the wagon and making the man swear. "God's blood! You old bitch, be easy! Do you want me to fall off?"

    The rumble and clatter of the wagon as it jolted along gradually eased his tension, and he slumped, hardly taking notice of his direction. There was little need, in any case. The old beast knew the way home to Crediton, and did not have to be touched with the whip or reins to take the correct path. Flies left the calves' carcasses behind as the wagon bumped, and he swore as he waved them away.

    Adam was no fool.

About the Author-
  • Michael Jecks gave up a career in the computer industry when he began writing the internationally successful Templar series. There are now twenty books starring Sir Baldwin Furnshill and Bailiff Simon Puttock, with more to follow. The series has been translated into all the major European languages and sells worldwide. The Chairman of the Crime Writers' Association for the year 2004--2005, Michael is a keen supporter of new writing and has helped many new authors through the Debut Dagger Award. He is a founding member of Medieval Murderers, and regularly talks on medieval matters as well as writing.

Reviews-
  • Northern Echo (England) “A Medieval mystery to rank with the best.”
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The Crediton Killings
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Knights Templar Mystery Series, Book 4
Michael Jecks
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