Veil of Lies
Review: Set in 1384 in London, Jeri Westerson introduces Crispin Guest, an amateur sleuth, in Veil of Lies, the first in a series of medieval noir mysteries.
Crispin is of royal blood, a knight in the service of the Duke of Lancaster. In an accusation of treason against the King, he is stripped of his knighthood and lives in a squalid district in London in a single room above a storefront. He's determined to rebuild his disgraced reputation. To survive, he takes on the role of a "tracker", one who, for a fee, will track down stolen articles and return them to their rightful owners. Familiar with the mannerisms of the rich, yet so poor as to be invisible to those with money, he is ideally suited to this kind of work. When well-to-do cloth magnate Nicholas Walcote summons him, Crispin is delighted … until he learns of the job. He is asked to follow Walcote's wife, who is believed to be having an affair. Although Crispin is reluctant to accept the job, he needs the money. When he visits Walcote the following day, however, Crispin finds him murdered, stabbed several times in his back. What is so unusual is that Walcote is found in a sealed room in his mansion, locked from the inside. Although Crispin has no official authority, the Lord Sheriff allows him help with the investigation.
But the case gets more complicated when Walcote's brothers come to claim the body and are dumbfounded to discover the dead man is not Nicholas. So many questions to be answered: Who was killed? How was he killed? Why was he killed? And where is Nicholas Walcote? Crispin the Tracker must first find all the pieces of this elaborate puzzle before he can solve the unknown man's murder.
The multifaceted, well-crafted plot involving dark secrets, international conspiracy, religious rivalry, an ancient artifact reputed to have magical properties, and, of course, a locked room murder mystery, is but one reason that Veil of Lies is so noteworthy. Another is the principled character of Crispin Guest, who makes for a very appealing amateur sleuth. The individuals in his alliance and those working against him are also all credibly drawn. There is even a touch of humor and romance. This solid debut will have readers looking forward to Crispin Guest's next case.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Veil of Lies.
Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a trade paperback edition of Veil of Lies for this review.
Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Veil of Lies: England
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Veil of Lies by Jeri Westerson — A Medieval Noir Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: October 2009
List Price: $14.99