A Convenient Solution
France, 1308. Jean Bellimont is leading a quiet, contented life as scribe in the city of Troyes. When his Bishop is arrested on spurious charges and Pope Clement sends an envoy to investigate, King Philippe responds by dispatching two of his most trusted Knights. Within days, one of the Cardinals is murdered, and France teeters on the brink of open war with the Papacy. More
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.
“A Convenient Solution” is the second in a series featuring the protagonist, Jean Bellimont.
What some readers have had to say:
"This is a brilliantly written historical thriller. Apart from a great whodunit mystery, it depicts a major era of French history which was carefully glossed over when I was a student in France. I am now going to read the other works from this author."
"I couldn't walk away from this nicely crafted book, a smaller and less complicated tale of the middle ages reminiscent of the battle between church and state chronicalled in Ken Follett's "Pillars of the Earth." Trevor Whitton has joined the short list of my favourite authors."
"Just excellent for those who enjoy mystery and history all cooked into one."