Murdering the Messenger

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Pub Date 03 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 30 Sep 2023

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Description

"Superb . . . a fast-moving and gripping plot" Publishers Weekly Starred Review of The Merchant Murderers

March 1557. Jack Blackjack is back in London and enjoying a sedentary life – after his treacherous voyage back to his beloved city the previous year, he desires nothing more than the simple pleasures – women, wine, beer and more women.


But his new parish of St Helen's has different ideas for him . . . a week after first laying eyes on the tempting Miss Rachel Nailor, she turns up horribly dead on the church vestry floor . . . and someone is trying to frame him for her murder!

A fellow Lady Elizabeth sympathiser, it appears Rachel Nailor was a woman with many secrets. But was she murdered in a fit of lustful rage, or was it part of a wider political play? Who would want Rachel dead – and Jack hanged for it? The suspects are plenty and Jack is running out of time.


With his master breathing down his neck, and old foes crawling out of the woodwork to add to Jack's wine-fuelled headache, Jack has never been in more danger!

"Superb . . . a fast-moving and gripping plot" Publishers Weekly Starred Review of The Merchant Murderers

March 1557. Jack Blackjack is back in London and enjoying a sedentary life – after his...


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9780727823069
PRICE $29.99 (USD)
PAGES 240

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Average rating from 14 members


Featured Reviews

Set in the 1500's Blackjack has a murder to investigate.
He is accused of murder of a young woman who acts as a messenger for Lady Elisabeth sister of Queen Mary of England. His master John Blount who works for Elisabeth forces Blackjack to take up the case.
He must find the murderer or else suffer the consequences whilst dodging debt collectors and navigating the complex relationships and quarrels of the local parishioners and not attracting officers of Queen Mary. Light hearted comedic adventure with plenty of suspects and difficulties for Blackjack along the way.
If you like crime dramas set in historical crimes and light reading then this book may well fit the bill.

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This was such a great concept in the historical mystery novel, it had everything that I wanted from the description. Michael Jecks writes this perfectly and it had everything that I was hoping for in a historical mystery. The characters were written perfectly for the historical period and I enjoyed getting to know them.

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I like historical mysteries, so I felt drawn to this.

I read another book by this author previously, and found myself indifferent to it, but I enjoyed this one a little bit more.

This was a Bloody Mary Tudor mystery. Somehow, it had the seriousness and the tone that I hoped for and expected, but it was more humorous than I initially anticipated. There were some humorous moments in the story that I enjoyed. I also liked the protagonist and the way that he narrated. I found the individual chapters to be a little bit long, which isn't ideal if you prefer short chapters. However, I did find it light enough to read in one sitting. If you're looking for a mystery with a touch of humour, or a historical mystery that's a quick read, this would be a good choice.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a free copy to review.

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Jack Blackjack shows his customary delusional ineptitude in this enjoyable romp from Michael Jecks, whose tongue is firmly in his cheek with this historical mystery series. Certain tropes do crop up again and again, such as Blackjack considering himself a dasher with the ladies and eyes up every woman he sees, but as soon as one appears to give him the glad eye, he runs a mile! All swagger and no backbone is our Jack, and while this is endearing to a point, it is not a bad thing that these books are not overlong, as a little of such pusillanimity goes a very long way. A nice light read.

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‘There is no doubt that being accused of murder first thing in the morning, before breakfast and after only two pints of ale, is neither reassuring or relaxing.’

March 1557. Jack Blackjack is back in London and looking forward to a quieter life. He is now living in the parish of St Helen’s (avoiding jealous husbands is sometimes important), and while he’s hopeful of relaxing with wine and women, beer and women, and just women, life has other plans. In church, Miss Rachel Nailor catches his eye, and Jack would love to get to know her better. Unfortunately, a week later Rachel Nailor is found murdered on the floor of the church vestry, and Jack becomes a suspect.

‘Now I may be considered by some, and especially John Blount, to be less than a match for the brains of the average stone pillar, but that is because I conceal my intellect carefully.’

In addition to trying to find out who killed Rachel Nailor, Jack must avoid a few people (including a lover’s husband and a landlord to whom he owes a debt). Rachel Nailor was, like Jack himself, sympathetic to the Lady Elizabeth, sister of Queen Mary. Religious intolerance and unrest are part of the backdrop to this tale, and once again John Blount calls on Jack to investigate.

While on several levels this is a light read, Mr Jecks captures the tension created by the religious differences between Queen Mary and the Lady Elizabeth. Jack Blackjack, opportunist and fixer, fits right in. So, who did murder Rachel Nailor, and why?

This is the eighth novel in Mr Jecks’s Bloody Mary Tudor Mystery series and while I have only read a few of them, I feel like I’ve known Jack forever. Or, perhaps, I met one of his descendants in my younger days. Hmm.
If you enjoy historical crime fiction with a rogue hero, you may enjoy this. I did.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Severn House for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

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Jack o’nine lives!

Jack, Jack, Jack! In between playing the gallant (in his own eyes more likely than not), escaping various complications he’s unwittingly set in motion, being a self confessed man of great appeal to the ladies, and the assassin for John Blount, (who works for Elizabeth) … well, there’s never a dull moment!
Jack more falls into situations than by any shrewd planning, and then has the devil’s own luck when pulling his irons out of the fire.
He’s moved into a new neighbourhood to escape the dunning of the tavern keeper Pudge who had provided food and drink for a party Jack didn’t throw. More complications!
Attending church (as one did in those days of Mary Tudor’s reign) Jack spies a lovely lady, Rachael Nailor, and fortuitously she arranges to meet with him. Only it’s not his charm she’s drawn to, oh no! She works for Elizabeth and Jack has been ordered to accompany her on a trip to France. Now we know after his last adventures away from London, Jack doesn't want to leave his beloved city, ever!
He’s going, that is until the lovely Rachael is found with her throat slit in the vestry of the church she’d supposedly gone to meet Jack. More trouble for him!
Well it’s downhill from here on for our anti hero, until the fog clears and Jack ‘o’nine lives’ once more walks clear.
Another, almost nonsensical couple of weeks in the life of our comic anti hero Black Jack!

A Severn House ARC via NetGalley.
Many thanks to the author and publisher.
(Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.)

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London, March, 1557, and Jack Blackjack, assassin in the service, indirectly, of the Princess Elizabeth, is back home. Well, he’s moved to a nearby parish, but only so that he can carry on sleeping with his neighbour’s wife without raising too much suspicion. His perilous journey too and from the West Country is a distant memory, and as far as he can see, the only problem in his future is which of the local women he should be seducing…
When he discovers that the local woman of his desire, Rachel Nailor, also works for the same people as him, he is somewhat concerned when he is tasked to escort her to France. Luckily for him, that perilous journey never happens, when Rachel is violently killed on the floor of the church vestry. Unfortunately for him, the powers that be are certain that Jack killed her to avoid the trip. The only way out of trouble – find the real killer. It’s just a shame that Jack hasn’t got a clue how to go about finding a murderer…
So after three disappointing reads, we come to an old friend of the blog – Michael Jecks, with the eighth Jack Blackjack book. And it’s the sort of book that demonstrates that there are always exceptions to my recent Doc-ologue.
You see, the Jack Blackjack books aren’t traditional detective books because there isn’t a detective in sight. They all have a whodunit aspect in them, but they play more as thrillers. Jack’s rasion d’etre is always to save his own skin, but this time the only way to do it is to solve a murder. But while Jack is not an idiot – his self-preservation skills are second to none – but his deductive skills are lacking. One particular highpoint for me was when about one third of the way through, he dismisses an idea as being stupid, and then two thirds in, he presents the same theory as a stroke of genius.
So you can forget all the Doc-ologue bits about clues and stuff – the only way Jack is going to solve this is by surviving the killer’s attack at the end. And in this case, that’s just fine.
Because this is, as with the rest of the series, is a great read. Jack is a lot of fun and his trials and tribulations, often self-inflicted, kept the pages turning. And the history…
I really wish I could put my finger on what brings the history in some books to life and what makes it feel like a painted backdrop. Perhaps it’s the use of the period to influence, not dominate, the plot. The danger of going against the reigning queen in favour of her sister adds a layer to the story and the life of London both livens and enhances the plot.
I love this series – they’re not traditional detective tales per se, but they are great thrillers and a ton of fun. Eight tons of fun in fact…

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“When I first saw the body, I thought I must be mistaken. Rachel should not have been there, she should have been packing, preparing herself for the journey, for in the next few hours she was supposed to travel to France – which was important to me, since she intended I should accompany her all the way to Paris.”

My thanks to Severn House for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘Murdering the Messenger’ by Michael Jecks.

This is Book 8 in his Bloody Mary Tudor Mystery series that features roguish anti-hero, Jack Blackjack. As usual, Jack narrates the tale in his cheeky colloquial style. He may be a former pickpocket turned assassin but his real interest lies in women, wine, beer and more women. This tends to get him into trouble.

March 1557. Jack Blackjack is just settling back into his life in London after his recent adventures in the West Country. During a Sunday service at his new parish Jack finds himself distracted by the comely Rachel Nailor. Yet it appears that she has many secrets of her own as Jack learns from his master, John Blount, that Rachel is a fellow Lady Elizabeth sympathiser. This rather dampens his ardour, especially when he is ordered to accompany her on a dangerous mission to Paris.

Then Rachel Nailor’s body is found on the church vestry floor and it appears that someone is trying to frame Jack for her murder! Who would want her dead? It turns out that there are plenty of suspects as well as other foes crawling out of the woodwork to add to Jack's woes. It’s going to take all of Jack’s wits and plenty of good luck for him to survive these myriad threats.

Having read a number of books in this series of historical mysteries, I expected a fast paced tale and I wasn’t disappointed. There were plenty of interesting twists and turns as Jack seeks to survive the tumultuous society of Mary Tudor’s London.

Michael Jecks writes with great confidence and throughout I found myself completely immersed in Jack Blackjack’s adventures. It is a book and series that I am always happy to recommend for its attention to the historical setting, great characterisation, as well as being a great deal of fun.

4.5 stars rounded up to 5.

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I love Jack Blackjack's novels and this one was entertaining and compelling. A well plotted and solid mystery that kept me guessing.
The historical background is as good as usual
Recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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A Bloody Mary Tudor mystery.
Eighth book in the Jack Blackjack series.
Jack is a lovable rogue, loved how he narrated the book - he is a lot of fun, even though most of his trials and tribulations are self-inflicted.
It’s 1557 and Jack is back in London enjoying the simple pleasures - women and wine.
However it doesn’t last for long - when he is framed for the murder of Miss Rachel Nailor, who is found dead on the church vestry floor.
Who would want Rachel dead and Jack hanged for it.
Loved how it is not a traditional whodunnit detective book, but plays out more as a thriller .
Also the period in which it is set is vividly brought to life and adds and enhances to the plot.
A thoroughly enjoyable read
Thanks @michealjecks @severnhouseimprint and @netgalley for the eARC

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