Serpent in the Thorns: A Medieval Noir

Serpent in the Thorns: A Medieval Noir

4.5 4
by Jeri Westerson

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Convicted of treason, Crispin Guest was stripped of his title, his land, his money and his friends. Now with only his considerable wits to sustain him, Guest works the mean streets of 14th century London, building a small reputation for his skill. In 1383, a simple-minded tavern girl comes to his door—a body was found where she works and she's the only person

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Convicted of treason, Crispin Guest was stripped of his title, his land, his money and his friends. Now with only his considerable wits to sustain him, Guest works the mean streets of 14th century London, building a small reputation for his skill. In 1383, a simple-minded tavern girl comes to his door—a body was found where she works and she's the only person who could have killed him. Except for the fact that the man was killed in place by a precisely aimed crossbow bolt. Making matters worse, the murdered man was one of three couriers from the French king, transporting a relic intended to smooth the troubled relations between France and England. Events quickly spin out of control and Guest now finds himself the prime suspect in the murder, one with terrible diplomatic implications. As the drumbeat of war between the two countries grow, Guest must unravel the con spiracy behind the murder to save not only his country, but himself as well.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Westerson's second medieval mystery to feature former English knight Crispin Guest (after 2008's Veil of Lies) works better as a suspense novel than as a whodunit. Implicated in a plot against Richard II, the disgraced Guest (aka “the Tracker”) has reinvented himself as an investigator for hire, with both private and public clients. One day in 1384, Grayce, a simpleminded scullion, seeks Guest's help because there's a dead man in her room at the King's Head Inn in Southwark. Grayce claims she killed the man, who turns out to have been a French courier bearing a gift for the English king—the legendary Crown of Thorns, rumored to have been worn by Jesus and to have the ability to confer special powers on its wearer. The Tracker soon finds himself in a political tempest. Westerson's mix of period terms and American tough-guy prose—at one point an archer asks the detective, “Didn't you use to be somebody?”—may grate on the ears of some historical fans. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Dishonored for his part in the treasonous act of trying to remove Richard the Lionhearted from the throne of England, Crispin Guest lives in abject poverty but ekes out a living as a private investigator in 1383 London. When a young woman finds a body in her room and goes to Guest for help, the trail leads him to the Royal Court and more trouble with the King. This follow-up to Westerson's thoroughly engrossing debut, Veil of Lies, places Guest squarely in the sights of those who wish him dead. VERDICT Westerson adds flavor to the tale by enhancing the relationship between Guest and his young helper. Readers who can't get enough of medieval historicals will snap this one up.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School—Cast out of English court life for treasonous acts against the king and disbarred from his home, wealth, and the woman he was to marry, Crispin has become known as the Tracker—one who will help you find justice for a fee. In this second book about him, a slow-witted scullion girl summons him to help her with the body of a French courier who lies dead in her room. She claims that she killed him, but Crispin is certain she didn't and is determined to discover the murderer, even though he knows that neither she nor her sister can pay him. In the midst of his search, he uncovers a plot to assassinate the king. Are the two incidents connected? Desperate to return to court and to regain his status as a knight, Crispin plans to curry favor from the king by presenting him with the sacred relic the courier was carrying. But the plan goes awry and he finds himself at the center of a web of court intrigue and treachery. Teens who like their mysteries set in the 14th century, or their hero one with more devotion to justice and honor than to common sense, are going to love this novel. There are gripping scenes of escape, vivid descriptions of everyday life, and a mystery that keeps you guessing until the end. This book can stand on its own merits, but readers unfamiliar with Veil of Lies (St. Martin's, 2008) are sure to want it, also. A rollicking good read for fans of the genre.—Connie Williams, Petaluma High School, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Outcast former knight Crispin Guest (Veil of Lies, 2008) seeks both vengeance and justice in the stews of medieval London. When John of Lancaster rose against King Richard II, some noblemen joined him in his treason. Among them was Crispin Guest, who considered John almost a foster father. When the coup failed, Crispin kept Lancaster's secrets even under torture. For his loyalty, the former knight is now the Tracker, living in one dirty room, attended by a clever but unruly pickpocket lad. When Grayce, a simple-minded scullery maid, finds a man in her bed with an arrow through his heart, she comes to Crispin. Despite the lowly tavern surroundings, Crispin can tell that the dead man was no peasant but an emissary of the French court. And he bore an even loftier treasure: the very Crown of Thorns pressed upon the crucified Christ. Because the relic is a peace offering from the French king to King Richard, the safety of the realm depends on Crispin's discovery of the murderer. If Crispin, aided by Grayce's shrewd, comely sister Livith, can uncover the treacherous plot and be the one to return the Crown to the Crown, perhaps he can both mete out justice and recover his lands, title and dignity. An appealing premise that dissolves into a chain of events alternately obvious and implausible. Still, Crispin's derring-do as he weaves between the Court and the kitchens is distinctively entertaining. Agency: Joshua Bilmes/JABberwocky Literary Agency

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St. Martin's Press
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Crispin Guest Novels , #2
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Meet the Author

JERI WESTERSON is a journalist, author of Veil of Lies, and noted blogger on things mysterious and medieval. She lives with her family in Menifee, California.

JERI WESTERSON is the author of books featuring Crispin Guest, including Veil of Lies, Serpent in the Thorns, The Demon's Parchment, Troubled Bones, and Blood Lance. She lives in Menifee, California.

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Serpent in the Thorns (Crispin Guest Medieval Noir Series #2) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Disgraced former English knight Crispin Guest lost everything he cherished when his support for Prince John left him caught up in a plot against King Richard. He knows he is fortunate to live though in squalid conditions. Instead of wallowing, he reinvents himself from knight errant to mercenary Tracker and finder (see VEIL OF LIES). He conducts investigations for a fee. In 1384 at the King's Head Inn in Southwark, Grayce asks Guest to help her. She claims the corpse of a man she killed is inside her room. Guest and his apprentice Reader the ragamuffin pickpocket quickly learn the victim was a French courier with a gift of the legendary Crown of Thorns for the Lionhearted. The Tracker and the Reader, assisted by Grayce's lovely sister Livith, immediately are caught up with murderous royal politics, which the last time this happened he became a disgraced knight. SERPENT IN THE THORN is an interesting medieval mystery starring a former knight who fell from grace to become the abject object of people asking where he is now. The relationship between the Tracker and the Reader has become more of a caring big and younger brother relationship which enhances the exciting story line. Although the latter part of the tale requires the audience to ignore credibility, fans will enjoy the fallen knight's late fourteenth century escapades. Harriet Klausner
cammocat01 More than 1 year ago
the author takes us more into medieval London and society as Crispin works to solve yet another mystery. This one is full of political intrigue. Crispin learns more about himself and his situation, as well as about human nature. A wonderful distraction and a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago