Genres: Historical Mystery, Medieval Mystery
When a corpse turns up at his favorite tavern, Crispin Guest—disgraced knight turned “Tracker”–begins an inquiry, but the dead man turns out to be a Templar knight, an order thought to be extinct for 75 years, charged with protecting a certain religious relic which is now missing. Before he can begin to investigate, Crispin is abducted by shadowy men who are said to be minions of the French anti-pope. Further complicating matters are two women: one from court with an enticing proposition, and another from Crispin’s past, dredging up long-forgotten emotions he would rather have left behind. And as if all that weren’t enough, a cunning young cutpurse by the name of Jack Tucker has insinuated himself into Crispin’s already difficult life. The deeper Crispin probes into the murder, the more it looks like the handiwork of an old friend turned adversary. With enemies from all sides, Crispin has his hands full in more than murder in this intriguing prequel to the acclaimed series.
See the book trailer on Youtube
“I have not deceived you as to my nature, Master Guest. I am all you see. Deceitful, hungry, pugnacious, greedy. Qualities found in most knights in most courts, wouldn’t you say? I am not like the precious Templars. Their deceit is couched in the odor of sanctity, wrapped in the mantle of piety, and sanctioned by well-wishers everywhere. The Templars want nothing more than to rule and dominate and they use goodhearted dupes such as you to accomplish their goals. But do not take my word for it. Discover for yourself the character of Gaston D’Arcy. Why don’t you ask Lady Stancliff?”
Crispin’s face remained neutral. The chair settled on all four legs again. “Lady Stancliff?”
“You know the lady in question. My operatives tell me that you know her…very well indeed.”
“I warn you. Do not delve into my privacy.”
“Privacy? For such a public lady? A lady whose indiscretions span the court? Ask her what she had to do with the pious Gaston D’Arcy. Ask her. Then ask her about Stephen St Albans. There are more paramours, but we do not have that much time.” He chuckled but there was little mirth behind it. “Perhaps the lady knows the grail’s whereabouts.”
Crispin’s strained fingers clutched his knees. Her vulnerability did seem a little too studied, a little too convenient. He suddenly felt the fool.
“Mon Dieu!” De Marcherne laughed. “I did not burst any bubbles, did I? You are not in love with her, are you?”
“I am under no delusions as concerns Lady Stancliff.”
“Good. Then I suggest you ask her about the grail. Or would you rather I ask her?”
A chill ran down Crispin’s spine. Wily she may be, but he did not relish the thought of Vivienne enduring de Marcherne’s kind of query.
“What say you, Crispin? Make a pact with me to find the grail? I will make it worth your while.”
“I am already being paid to find it.”
“But when you find it for them,” he said, leaning closer, “you must surrender it. Find it for me and there will be no reason to. Think Crispin. There are forces here far greater than we. If you covet the return of your knighthood, if you believe that without it you are only half a man, you will do this. The grail can recover everything for you.”
Crispin tried to shut it out. It was true, then, that the Devil knew your greatest weakness and could use it to tempt you.
He wondered how much he owed to the Templars. Wynchecombe did not care if the grail was recovered or not because he did not believe in its existence. Legend, myth. Who could truly say what the grail was or who it belonged to?
“It is not treason when one works for the greater good,” continued de Marcherne. “How foolish are the English. They do not perceive your value. Come to the French court and your knighthood and all that goes with it will be restored.”
“If I find the grail and give it to you?”
Crispin rubbed his chest. “You could have asked before. Why didn’t you?”
De Marcherne sipped his wine. “When one is accustomed to certain methods it is hard to change. As I said, I do regret my earlier treatment of you.”
“I work for a fee of one shilling a day, plus expenses.”
“You work for sixpence a day. But I will pay you twelve.” He motioned to one of the men who handed him a pouch. “Here is a sennight’s worth in advance.”
Crispin looked at the pouch but did not take it. “What if I don’t find it? What if it falls to another?”
De Marcherne smiled, took Crispin’s hand, and placed the pouch within it. “Don’t disappoint me.”
L.A. native Jeri Westerson has been a journalist, a theology teacher, and graphic artist, among other things. As a novelist, she combined the medieval with the hard-boiled and came up with her own brand of medieval mystery she calls Medieval Noir. Her brooding protagonist, Crispin Guest, is a disgraced knight turned detective on the mean streets of fourteenth century London. Her sixth book, SHADOW OF THE ALCHEMIST, was named the Best of 2013 by Suspense Magazine. Her latest, CUP OF BLOOD, has already garnered critical acclaim. Jeri’s Crispin Guest books have been nominated for a variety of industry awards, from the Agatha to the Shamus. She is president of the Southern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America and a member of several prestigious writing organizations. Jeri speaks all over the southland about medieval history, including as a guest lecturer at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana and Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA. When not writing, Jeri dabbles in gourmet cooking, likes fine wines, cheap chocolate, and swoons over anything British. She herds two cats, a tortoise, a bevy of bees, and the occasional tarantula at her home in southern California. See more at JeriWesterson.com
Website (which includes her character’s blog)
Facebook Twitter Goodreads Pinterest Getting Medieval
Virtual Book Tour Dates: 8/21/14 – 8/28/14
One autographed print or ebook will be given away on each blog that participates in the tour! To enter, simply leave a blog comment with your email address. Entry is restricted to USA residents only, please!