Landscape of Murder

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Book 2 of Art of Murder
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Pub Date Apr 02 2024 | Archive Date Mar 31 2024

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Join accidental sleuth, Nick Morris, in his second mystery in The Art of Murder series.

When an offer to paint a beautiful Georgian house in the Peak District falls into Nick Morris' lap he jumps at the commission. Businessman Derek Swann is selling up and wants a landscape to remember. But Nick's plans for a quiet stay in the countryside are scuppered when he and his chalet neighbour Megan Lamplighter find a body in the woods surrounding the holiday park.

Rick Parrow seemed to be a troubled young adult, with a dark cloud following him around in recent days, so when it turns out he was murdered, Nick feels compelled to seek out the truth. What was bothering Rick in the days before his death? What exactly was his connection to the bear-like figure of Jez Cooper, who was staying in a chalet up from Nick? And who could possibly have wanted the boy dead?

Nick's attention is pulled in every direction - from his work at the manor house, and its captivating housekeeper Adela - to the many unsavoury characters now circling the holiday park and paying a little too much attention to Nick's movements. Nick must act fast if he wants to get out of this in one piece!

Join accidental sleuth, Nick Morris, in his second mystery in The Art of Murder series.

When an offer to paint a beautiful Georgian house in the Peak District falls into Nick Morris' lap he jumps at...

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ISBN 9781448310937
PRICE $29.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 16 members

Featured Reviews

This had everything that I was hoping for in a sequel to the Art of Murder series, it had a great overall feel to the genre. The characters were everything that I was hoping for and thought the characters were strongly written and worked in this time-period. Michael Jecks has a great writing style and I'm glad this series worked overall.

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As a fan of Michael Jecks’ historical mysteries, I was intrigued to see he had written one set in modern times. The amateur detective, Nick Morris, is an artist who has been commissioned to paint a country house in an idyllic landscape. He is soon confronted with a boozy mystery-author neighbor, simmering local resentments, road rage incidents, and a death. Jecks packs plenty of twists into the plot. I particularly enjoyed the artist’s first-person descriptions of the setting—by which I don’t mean pages of flowery prose. Nick is more inclined to describe the scene before him in terms of light and shadow and which paint colors he would use to paint it—and how much he could sell a few of these pictures for to pay his bills. His ‘everyman’ artist-detective is an entertaining narrator. All in all, an enjoyable read.

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Enjoyable Mystery..
The second outing in The Art of Murder series of mysteries finds sometime amateur sleuth Nick with a new commission. The chance to paint a stunning Georgian house in the Peaks is too good to pass up for Nick but his plans are soon to take an alarming turn as murder rears its ugly head. Another pacy mystery with a credible and well drawn cast of characters, an engaging plot with an edge of wry humour as well as a well imagined backdrop. Enjoyable and entertaining.

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A painter and a murder!

Nick Morris is a portrait painter who seems to paint more cats than people. He’s driven his Morgan (I’m in love already!) up to Devon to do a water color of a house before it’s sold. It’s owner, Derek Swann has an AI business. The house is a Georgian place in the Peak District. Derek wants a painting of the property before the sale’s finalized. Nick’s banker mate got him the job.
(I feel even warmer towards Nick when it’s revealed he always takes his Aeropress to make his coffee. Snap, so do I.) I’m loving this guy twice over.
Anyway, things of course aren’t kosher, either at the house or in the town of Ashbourne nearby. Nick meets a varied group of people from Derek’s glamorous, yet guarded assistant, to a couple of bikers, and flamboyant woman Megan who’s staying in one of the holiday chalets he’s booked into. It’s when he’s walking with Megan that they discover the body of a young man. Now Nick’s unfortunately involved in another murder.
Nick does spend his time sketching everything as he walks around, people and places.
Ok, it seems to me that writing about an unlikely sleuth gives Michael Jecks a playful way to incorporate some of his own passions and foibles into the story. What fun!
I loved every word of this cosy mystery and now have to backtrack and read the previous title in this series.

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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So, book 2 from friend of the blog Michael Jecks in this series. You will remember his work from the Templar series, the Jack Blackjack series, and the recently started Shanghailanders series, all of which have something in common, namely the vivid historical background to set the story against. So I find it very interesting to look at the work of an author when one of his strengths is deliberately stripped away – because, to me at least, the 21st century Peak District does not hold a candle to 14th Century Devon. On the other hand, I understand that for a lot of readers, they wouldn’t touch an historical mystery, so here’s a chance to read Mike’s work without have to expand their horizons.
Ooh, that sounded a bit snotty, didn’t it? But hey, most of my favourite authors write historical mysteries, so you really ought to try them…
Anyway, enough with offending my loyal readers and anyone passing by. How is this one?
Obviously, it’s a good read. Nick is an interesting narrator. I’m not completely sure why he isn’t dead, or at least suffering a serious brain injury, by the end of the book, but the idea of a non-detective trying to solve a crime works well. There’s a decent set of support characters, most of which have rounded back-stories that contribute to the story rather than just get in the way.
That’s a good point actually, one that I’ve not considered before. When good authors (as in this case) drop a chunk of backstory, a) it doesn’t feel like exposition and b) it’s there to service the story. Aspiring authors could take lessons here – don’t give a five page flashback to someone losing their favourite teddy bear when they were six just to pad the page count.
As is the case with Mike’s books, almost everyone is up to something and you only see what at the end, despite a clue or two that you probably missed. There is a really nice double-bluff at one point, although that had nothing really to do with the murder, and the reveal is handled very nicely.
Niggles? Well, I prefer a more competent henchman, and I’m not sure how much money there is in a certain enterprise on the scale we see here, but as I said, those are niggles.

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This is the first .Michael Jecks historical murder book I have read. The setting of the Peak District is familiar to me having spent many happy hours walking and cycling in the area including the often mentioned Tissington Trail. Overall I enjoyed the book with its artist and drones featuring but I agree with other reviewers the later stages of the book felt a little rushed almost as if a writing deadline had to be achieved.

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