Pilgrimage (click for excerpt)
France 1295. Jean Bellimont leads a quiet, contented life as a scribe to the Bishop of Troyes and husband to his wife, Marguerite. Suddenly his world is turned upside down when he is accosted by a small beggar woman on his way home from work one evening. He retaliates by knocking her to the ground – then watches appalled as her lifeblood ebbs away before his eyes. Looking up he meets the gaze of the woman’s young daughter watching from the shadows of a nearby doorway. He flees the scene in a blind panic, but is later overcome with remorse. His guilt becomes so overwhelming that he eventually realises there is only one path to redemption – to undertake a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella.
Thus the little scribe is forced to leave his wife and children to undertake a life-changing journey. On the way he is charged with retrieving a stolen relic, becomes involved in deadly disputes between the Church and Heresy, and befriends a nun, a former crusader, a heretic, and a hunch-backed dwarf.
With parts of the novel based on historical fact (including details of the pilgrimage route to Compostella, the Cathar Heresy, and the Second Crusade), the novel draws a convincing picture of a 13th century pilgrimage, wrapped within a compelling story of true drama which lasts literally to the final page.
Pilgrimage is the first of the Jean Bellimon novels with a length of approximately 103,00 words. It can be purchased from Smashwords by clicking here. Alternatively, you can visit my website by clicking here.
A Convenient Solution (click for excerpt)
France, 1308. Philip the Fair is King, the English wars continue to rage in the south west, and Giotto is revolutionising painting in Italy. Philip’s reign has been one of ongoing controversy. He has recently expelled the Jews from French soil, dissolved the Order of the Knights Templar, and has been in open conflict with the Papacy for years. His role in helping depose Boniface and appointing Clement V – the first French Pope – has backfired. The new Pope has made it clear that his loyalties lay firmly with the Church and not with his King, and matters are coming to a head. Soon this conflict will lead to the Papacy’s move to Avignon, the election of a second Pope in Rome, and the beginning of a schism that will last for nearly 40 years.
All this is of little concern to Jean Bellimont, who is leading a quiet, contented life as scribe to Bishop Guichard of Troyes. His life is turned upside down when the King has Guichard arrested on spurious charges and he finds himself without a job. His fortunes are temporarily reversed when he gains employment with the Bailli of Troyes – until the murder of a visiting Cardinal sent by the Pope to investigate the Bishop’s arrest. The presence of two of the King’s most trusted Knights means that suspicion immediately falls upon them – creating the most delicate of political situations. Gradually other suspects are revealed, and a convenient scapegoat presents itself in the form of the local apothecary.
Jean’s new employer – the Bailli of Troyes – appears satisfied that the matter is resolved, but Jean is certain of the man’s innocence. Despite the perilousness of his situation, he feels honour bound to pursue his suspicions, treading a fine line between betraying his employer and defending himself against threats of excommunication from the Church and charges of treason by the State.
The story includes a host of eccentric characters and historically accurate incidents, and is a combination of fact, fiction and speculation. The plot is complex and keeps the reader guessing until the surprising revelations of the final chapter.
Pilgrimage is the second of the Jean Bellimont novels, with a length of approximately 65,000 words. It can be purchased from Smashwords by clicking here. Alternatively, you can visit my website by clicking here.
A Fatal Homecoming (click for excerpt)
France, 1310: In the woods outside the market town of Troyes, a forestier stumbles across the body of a stranger.
As Henri Dubois – the local Bailli – begins his investigation, it soon becomes apparent that the discovery threatens to implicate the wife of his best friend, Richard Beauchamp. Hopelessly compromised, he is forced to relinquish responsibility to the Dean of the Guild of Merchants – an outspoken enemy of both Henri and Richard. Unable to officially pursue his own investigation and with Madame Beauchamp in imminent danger of arrest, Henri dispatches his clerk, Jean Bellimont, to Paris in the desperate hope of uncovering fresh evidence. Amidst the squalor of the medieval capital, Jean encounters the execution of a heretic and follows a trail of clues which eventually leads him back to Troyes. In the meantime the Dean of the Guild has fabricated evidence against the Beauchamps, and Richard and his wife are forced to seek the sanctuary of a nearby convent. Mercenaries are despatched to find them, and a game of cat and mouse develops between the fugitives and their pursuer. Back in Troyes, a second murder appears to bring Jean and Henrifs investigation to an impasse, and, when the innocent woman is finally arrested and brought to trial, Jean and Henri have a race against time to save her from the gallows.
The novel is meticulously researched and plunges the reader into an accurate and absorbing account of life in medieval France. It provides added depth and authenticity through historically accurate incidents, and includes several back-stories which weave neatly into the main narrative. Clues are revealed which are both subtle and plausible, and draw the protagonists towards an inevitable but surprising solution. Culminating in a dramatic courtroom scene where the true murderer is revealed, the threads of all the stories are resolved into an emotional and satisfying conclusion.
A Fatal Homecoming is the third of the Jean Bellimont novels, with a length of approximately 60,000 words. It can be purchased from Smashwords by clicking here. Alternatively, you can visit my website by clicking here.
The Lirey Shroud Mystery (click for excerpt)
Collette Dubois, the wife of the Bailli of Troyes, is discovered plunging a dagger into the chest of man who had attacked her several weeks earlier. She escapes, leaving her husband (Henri) and his deputy (Jean Bellimont) to unravel the web of intrigue which led up to this event. The two men become convinced of her innocence, and are eventually led to a mysterious artifact which the murdered man had been commissioned to produce for a local noble. The Bishop of Troyes is also implicated, and Henri must balance his personal interest in the case against the involvement of two of the town’s most influential citizens. The investigators are presented with a bewildering array of suspects and motives, before the pieces finally fall into place and the puzzle is solved.
And for something completely different…
Bon Voyage (click for excerpt)
Ever wanted a hassle-free guide to traveling around Europe with your family? Well this isn’t it. Looking for a list of the best attractions and places to stay? It isnft that either. Bon Voyage is the record of a holiday that went horribly wrong – not once, not twice, but more times then you’ll think were possible. From lost credit cards and endless battles with Kafka-esque bureaucracies to illnesses, accidents, and run-ins with some less-than-scrupulous natives, it reads more like a list of what not to do. Join our family as we limp across the continent leaving a string of disasters in our wake – at the very least it will make you feel better about you own mishaps, and maybe you’ll get a chuckle or two along the way!