My system of categorizing and scoring books cannot be explained in fewer than 350 words, and a book review isn’t really the place to do it anyway. Generally, a book only get gets 5 stars from me if it makes me howl with laughter, or sob, or is in some way life changing. Most mysteries do not fit these criteria.
That said, The Demon’s Parchment comes awfully bloody close, no pun intended, to getting a higher rating simply because of all the various social topics it discusses. As a mother, I can hardly stand stories that deal with children being hurt. Ms Westerson did a wonderful job handling that distasteful topic, not making it into something that would require me to refill my Xanax prescription at warp speed. I didn’t have to endure pages of skimming over descriptions of children being brutalized and tortured, for which I am exceedingly grateful. I am also grateful for the fury and horror that drives Crispin to find the murderer and stop him.
The subplot with the Jews was also intriguing, as I know little about this aspect of English society beyond the expulsion of the Jews by Edward I. I enjoyed seeing both Crispin and Jack grow beyond their inherent distrust and learn to actually listen to logic to learn something about the Jewish physician at court. They are light years ahead of many of their contemporaries in that regard.
John Rykener played a very small but vital role in this novel. I would have liked to have met him in real life. That is all.
The one drawback to the novel is that, strangely, I rather miss the diabolical Simon Wynchecombe. He had a cameo, but it was still somewhat like reading a Robin Hood tale minus the Sheriff of Nottingham.
So far, this has been my favorite of the Crispin Guest novels. On to Troubled Bones we go!