Veil of Lies (Crispin Guest Medieval Noir Series #1)

( 18 )

Overview

"A great read, through and through. Westerson's finely wrought portrait of gritty Medieval London is embued with great wit and poignancy. Crispin Guest is a knight to remember." -- Cornelia Read, author of A Field of Darkness, on Veil of Lies.

Crispin Guest is a disgraced knight, stripped of his rank and his honor - but left with his life - for plotting against Richard II. Having lost his bethrothed, his friends, his patrons and his position in society. With no trade to support him and no family willing to ...

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Veil of Lies (Crispin Guest Medieval Noir Series #1)

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Overview

"A great read, through and through. Westerson's finely wrought portrait of gritty Medieval London is embued with great wit and poignancy. Crispin Guest is a knight to remember." -- Cornelia Read, author of A Field of Darkness, on Veil of Lies.

Crispin Guest is a disgraced knight, stripped of his rank and his honor - but left with his life - for plotting against Richard II. Having lost his bethrothed, his friends, his patrons and his position in society. With no trade to support him and no family willing to acknowledge him, Crispin has turned to the one thing he still has - his wits - to scrape a living together on the mean streets of London. In 1383, Guest is called to the compound of a merchant - a reclusive mercer who suspects that his wife is being unfaithful and wants Guest to look into the matter. Not wishing to sully himself in such disgraceful, dishonorable business but in dire need of money, Guest agrees and discovers that the wife is indeed up to something, presumably nothing good. But when he comes to inform his client, he is found dead - murdered in a sealed room, locked from the inside. Now Guest has come to the unwanted attention of the Lord Sheriff of London and most recent client was murdered while he was working for him. And everything seems to turn on a religious relic - a veil reported to have wiped the brow of Christ - that is now missing.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Brimming with historical detail and descriptions of life in 1383 London, Westerson’s mystery debut is a brilliant tale of survival in a hostile environment, where anything can lead to death. Fans of medieval mysteries will put this on their reserve list. Highly recommended.”
Library Journal (starred review)
 
“This first installment in a planned series, introducing a conflicted hero and delving into the grim lives of ordinary people in medieval times, will appeal to mystery and history fans alike.”    — Kirkus Reviews
 
“An entertaining read that makes the prospect of sequels welcome.”
Publishers Weekly
 
“This authentically detailed medieval mystery has an intriguingly dark edge that will appeal to fans of both historical fiction and noir.” — Booklist

Publishers Weekly

Crispin Guest, a former knight who was stripped of his rank after being implicated in a plot against Richard II, now makes his living as a "tracker," the medieval equivalent of a PI, in Westerson's promising debut, set in 1384 London. Nicholas Walcote, a wealthy cloth merchant, hires Guest to investigate his younger and attractive wife, Philippa, whom he suspects of infidelity. Guest's cursory probe is derailed after his client is found stabbed to death in a locked room. Philippa retains Guest's services to find her husband's killer, who may have been motivated by Walcote's possessing a legendary relic reputed to force those in its proximity to tell the truth. While featuring a hard-boiled medieval sleuth instead of a monk or a nun may not be quite as groundbreaking as the author suggests in her afterword (e.g., Susanna Gregory's 14th-century Cambridge physician Matthew Bartholomew), this is nonetheless an entertaining read that makes the prospect of sequels welcome. (Nov.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

In medieval London, disgraced knight Crispin Guest, convicted of treason for plotting against Richard II and stripped of his estates, ekes out a living as the Tracker, finding things for people. In his first case, he is hired to determine who killed a wealthy merchant who is believed to be in possession of a religious relic-a cloth bearing the face of Jesus and possessing magical powers. Brimming with historical detail and descriptions of life in 1383 London, Westerson's mystery debut is a brilliant tale of survival in a hostile environment, where anything can lead to death. Fans of medieval mysteries will put this on their reserve list. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ7/08.]


—Jo Ann Vicarel
Kirkus Reviews
A disgraced knight earns a meager living as a private inquiry agent in 1383 London. Crispin Guest lost everything but his life after plotting against King Richard II. Now he must use his wits to survive in a dark and dangerous world he hardly knew existed. When a wealthy merchant hires Guest to determine whether his wife is unfaithful, he quickly becomes embroiled in a more complex and ominous plot. The wife, who is indeed unfaithful, seems surprisingly dissatisfied with her adultery. When her husband is found murdered in a locked room, she hires Guest to find and dispose of a holy relic her husband has hidden in the house. The Mandyllon is a cloth said to bear the image of Jesus' face. In its presence everyone must tell the truth. Guest soon realizes there are other people interested in the Mandyllon, including the wife's Saracen lover and a group of Italians working for a powerful enemy of England. Threatened by the sheriff and left for dead in the Thames, Guest ends up falling for the merry widow. A former servant, she is no mate for a former knight who retains his honor and class prejudices. Still a loyal liege of England, he ignores the threats and keeps working to expose a sinister plot. This first installment in a planned series, introducing a conflicted hero and delving into the grim lives of ordinary people in medieval times, will appeal to mystery and history fans alike.
Booklist
...This authentically detailed medieval mystery has an intriguingly dark edge that will appeal to fans of both historical fiction and noir.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312580124
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Series: Crispin Guest Medieval Noir Series , #1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 429,013
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeri Westerson is a journalist, novelist, and noted blogger on things mysterious and medieval. She lives with her family in Menifee, California.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 18 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2008

    At Last, a New, Well Written Mystery

    If you are tired of trying new authors whose writing could not pass muster on a high school exit exam, then you are in for a treat because Jeri Westerson's debut mystery, Veil of Lies, is in the same literary league as Dorothy L. Sayers, Ruth Rundle and P.D. James. Swiftly paced and action packed, Ms. Westerson's novel readily meets the basic criteria for today's popular fiction, but more importantly, her prose waxes poetic with evocative descriptions of old, medieval London, dark, dank and dangerous. Memorable characters burgeon forth, drawn so effortlessly, so naturally, you will never spot the author's artifices. While protagonist, Crispin Guest, a former knight broken and disbarred from his previous station, who barely escapes with his life after plotting treason, is as dark and hard-bitten as any detective found in American pulp fiction. Cold, calculating, even cruel at times, hard drinking Guest finds himself delving into the shady lives and foul deeds of strangers he would have not deigned to acknowledge in his previous position of nobility. Now he not only lives amongst the lower castes, he must quarry their secrets to earn an ignominious living--six pence a day plus expenses.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Okay I admit it, the cover drew me in. Seriously what's not to l

    Okay I admit it, the cover drew me in. Seriously what's not to love about the hot medieval guy with long hair and a sword? I don't know who he is, but I certainly wouldn't kick him out of my bed unless he had lice. Having said that, it was the blurb made me buy and I am SO glad I did. Being a fan of Ellis Peters and Sharon Kay Penman, I've been looking for something in this genre and through a twist of fate (or being bored on GR), I found it. Veil of Lies: A Medieval Noir is what you'd get if Cornell Woolrich decided to channel Geoffrey Chaucer.

    This is medieval London at its grittiest. Jeri Westerson does a fantastic job of recreating the sights, sounds and yes, even the smells of 13th century London--and trust me, Medieval Times wouldn't be as much fun if they were striving for historical accuracy *wink*. The hero of this tale is disgraced knight Crispin Guest, who's lucky to be alive after having been caught in a treason against a young Richard II. Crispin, once a scion of the nobility has taken a huge fall and now lives a hardscrabble existence in The Shambles--a place he'd never imagined he'd wind up. For all this, he still maintains that aura of superiority possessed by members of the ruling class, an aspect that can make him a bit of a jerk at times. He's also had to find a new occupaation as The Tracker, a man who's hired by others to find things.

    This time he's hired by a wealthy clothing merchant, Nicholas Walcote, to spy on his young wife Phillipa, whom he believes is having an affair. It's not a job that Crispin wants, but being bereft of funds and behind on rent, takes anyway only to realize there's a lot more than mere adultery happening and that the more he gets involved, the more his life is at stake. Through in religious relics and international intrugue and it doesn't take long for Crispin to realize he may be in way over his head.

    To say that I am so hooked on this series is an understatement. I love the medieval period, though I certainly wouldn't want to live in it. Crispin Guest is a wonderful character--caustic, flawed, but for all that, he's still very much that idealistic knight always ready to help a damsel in distress, even one who may be more than she lets on.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2011

    A Strong Start

    While searching for a historical mystery that I had not yet read, I came upon the suggestion of Jeri Westerson's Medieval Noir, Troubled Bones. Since Troubled Bones was the fourth in the series I decided to read the first book, Veil of Lies. With the writing success of CJ Sansom and Arianna Franklin, this series holds its own. The main character, Crispin Guest, a disgraced knight, is flawed, funny and is well aware of his short comings. The book is well paced and the mystery is suited to the medievel age. I will definitely read the other books in this series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 16, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    an intriguing medieval Noir

    In 1384 disgraced former knight Crispin Guest lost his rank after evidence arose that he was part of a plot to dethrone King Richard II. Guest makes a living as a tracker of lost items or people.<BR/><BR/>In London, believing his spouse is cuckolding him, affluent cloth merchant Nicholas Walcote hires Guest to look into the affairs of his much younger beautiful wife, Philippa. Guest begins his inquiries only to learn he no longer has a client; someone stabbed Walcote leaving him dead in a locked room. However to his shock, the widow hires Guest to investigate her husband¿s murder. She believes a magical artifact her spouse owned that propelled people to always tell the truth was the reason for the homicide. As Guest gets closer to the truth, someone wants him stopped by any mean necessary.<BR/><BR/>VEIL OF LIES is an intriguing medieval Noir starring a disgraced former knight who has become a private investigator. The story line is fast-paced but totally owned by Guest who as a warrior is used to hand to hand combat; he takes that in your face methodology to his new occupation. The whodunit is fun to follow, but it is the kick butt Guest who brings late fourteenth century London to life.<BR/><BR/>Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 8, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Veil of Lies is the first installment in Jeri Westerson¿s mediev

    Veil of Lies is the first installment in Jeri Westerson’s medieval mystery series featuring Crispin Guest, a disgraced knight now turned private investigator long before the elusive named profession was ever coined!
    Venture back to 1384 England, Crispin Guest was once raised in the home of the Duke of Lancaster, once thought to be his protégé and as such followed at the Duke’s side into court under Prince Edward. At the death of Prince Edward, Crispin believed Lancaster; uncle to the current young King Richard should rightfully be sitting the throne. Aligning himself with a group he thought would make Lancaster king, the plot once discovered, taken as an act of treason, soon found Crispin stripped not only of his title of knight but of all the riches once bestowed upon him including his barony in Sheen. Left penniless and renting a small room in the Shambles, the poorest part of London, Crispin has made his way using his unique deduction skills gaining a reputation for “finding things” which have penned him with the professional name the Tracker. Oftentimes finding himself in the company although through an uneasy alliance with the Lord Sheriff Wynchecombe who would enjoy the notoriety from the fruits of Crispin’s labors while Crispin would often find himself black and blue from the Sheriff’s hand. It is upon an inquiry requesting his services to gain answers for one Nicholas Walcote, a rich cloth merchant that finds Crispin embroiled in a plot more treasonous than he found himself eight years ago. The search for a holy cloth that would give the holder ultimate power, for rumor claimed one could not lie in its presence. Crispin and his rag-tag band of associates will keep you amused as well as intrigued into discovering who really did it.


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  • Posted March 1, 2013

    Full of twists and turns

    This is the first in the Crispin Guest series and it's very engrossing. Although I could figure out some of the major clues, the author does a wonderful job of keeping you guessing till the end. We also learn about the protagonist as he learns of himself.
    I recommend this series to anyone looking for a different type of detective novel.

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  • Posted October 29, 2011

    It's a book with promise

    I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but this book just didn't enthrall me. The characters were one dimensional, and I never felt as though I knew them. I will be buying the next book, because I think the story has promise. Perhaps the main character will make enough money as a 'tracker' so that he can afford a new pair of stockings. And the woman of his dreams with the Cockney accent? Unbelievable. I hope the next book in the series is more convincing.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    Uncover the Veil of Lies

    Crispin Guest has had better days; in fact, he's had an entirely better life. Once a knight and member of the inner circle of the second most powerful man in England, he struggles to make the rent on his slum apartment and spends his days with common criminals ducking the long arm of the London sheriff. Fortunately, he has found a niche as the Tracker, an investigator for hire. His latest job has him following around a wealthy merchant's wife suspected of infidelity. It's a simple, albeit boring and degrading assignment--that doesn't last long before he's got a dead body on his hands and a slew of folks after his head.
    Ms. Westerson does a great job fleshing out her characters, and it's the play between each of them that really makes me recommend this, the first novel in the Crispin Guest series. Unlike many historical mysteries, she does not expend the bulk of her prose in a living history lesson, but instead briefly sketches the setting for the real focus of her work, which is her plot and characters. It works well, and I highly recommend her book for a few enjoyable hours with some tasty brain candy.

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  • Posted February 16, 2010

    VEIL OF LIVES is A+ for mystery lovers and history buffs

    VEIL OF LIES ( a Medieval Noir) is the first book in a series by Jeri Westerson. Crispin Guest is a man without a place in the rigidly stratified world of England in 1384. Crispin had been the protege of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, uncle of King Richard II. He had been knighted when he was 18 but an accusation of treason had cost his his lands, his money, and his knighthood. In need of an income, Crispin becomes the Tracker, the man who uses the fighting skills he learned as he moved through the ranks of Lancaster's men. Nicholas Walcote, a successful cloth merchant, hires Crispin to follow his wife whom he suspects of infidelity. Walcote is a strange man who locks doors as he enters and leaves, fearful of something or someone. Crispin discovers that Walcote was right in his belief that Philippa was meeting another man and in the morning he brings the information to Walcote Manor only to discover that Nicholas has been murdered, sealed in a room that had been locked from the inside. Philippa is devastated, claiming to have truly loved her husband. She hires Crispin to find the murderer and the plot takes off to include treason, espionage, murder, and a plot to destroy England's position in Europe. And, of course, there is a mystery about a relic, a piece of cloth said to hold the image of Christ's face. This image is truly miraculous because no man can tell a lie when in its presence. Westerson blends historical figures with fictional ones seamlessly. Relics abound in Europe, captured during the Crusades. The cloth of truth, the Mandyllon, is one of a number of pieces of cloth or veil that surfaced in Europe, the validity of which was debated throughout the Middle Ages. VEIL OF LIES is an interesting look at a period that hasn't figured in mystery fiction thus far.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2009

    Clunky and awkward

    This book had such potential. Sadly, it reads like the amateur hour, as if the author followed a template from a bad fiction writing class. The cliches abound, the syntax is stunningly awkward and I abandoned this book a quarter of the way through it. Especially annoying is the author's annoying attempts to convey historical accuracy by regaling the reader with the specific term for nearly every component of medieval costume, however obscure. Another inspiring entry in the "If This Can Get Published, Anything Can" hall of shame.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2009

    Borrow from the library rather than purchase

    I love medieval mysteries and the jacket promised an intriguing tale. Alas, it was not. The plot is plodding, with too many sub-plots that don't mix well together. Clues are thrown out early on but it takes the author forever to incorporate them and since the reader has already guessed, it's rather boring to wait for the characters to figure it out. The identity of the murderer is resolved almost as an afterthought with no real bearing on the main plot; the murderer was a cardboard character who seemed to have been introduced solely for the purpose of being the guilty party. Another minor character turned out to be a key player; but we saw so little of him that it was a deus-ex-machina type of surprise. Overall characterizations are shallow, uneven and unbelievable. If you like medieval mysteries with royal intrigue, a better bet are the books by Sharon Kay Penman.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2009

    Quality Writing That Entertains

    Bought the hard cover and it went through the readers in our house quickly. When will the paper back come out? Love to give this as a unique gift. I'll never look at a pickle the same again! Write more please. :)

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  • Posted March 20, 2009

    Anew type of HERO

    I found this to be as well done as the books by Sansom.It was original with a ex Knight as the key character in the book

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  • Posted November 17, 2008

    Exciting Debut Novel

    Crispin Guest, the disgraced knight at the heart of Veil of Lies, could make me a medieval mystery fan.<BR/><BR/>He carries his disgrace with the wry stoicism on a hard-boiled detective and travels with a sidekick who could be the prototype for the artful dodger. He has an eye for the ladies, has a quick wit and can more than hold his own when things get physical. <BR/><BR/>The plot is fast paced, surprising and logical. Wrapped in a medieval setting grounded in historical detail, Veil of Lies is page turner. A highly recommended debut novel that left me wanting another, immediately.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 10, 2013

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    Posted February 3, 2012

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    Posted September 6, 2012

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    Posted June 22, 2011

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