In this ninth installment of Westerson’s Crispin Guest medieval noir series, we find Crispin himself playing a supporting role as his apprentice, Jack Tucker, takes the lead. A mysterious man hires a very drunk Crispin to kill a woman. Crispin, his chivalrous nature horrified at the very idea, instead goes to warn her. Beguiled by her beauty, he ends up in bed with her, eventually passing out from the alcohol. When he comes to, he is shocked to discover that the woman had been murdered while he was unconscious. Before he can get far in his investigation, he is himself arrested for the murder, leaving Jack to solve the crime on his own. With the help of some new characters – the plucky lawyer, Nigellus Cobmartin; and the lovely Isabel Langton, niece of Gilbert and Eleanor of the Boar’s Tusk Tavern – and our old friend John Rykener, Jack takes on the mantle of The Tracker alone for the first time.
I have read and loved every other book in the Crispin series, which is set in late 14th-century London, and this one was no different. It is somewhat bittersweet to see Jack growing up, becoming a man, and meeting a girl he can seriously consider marrying. I still think of him as the little boy he was in the first book. At the same time, it is wonderful to see him grow and use the skills he’s learned at Crispin’s knee to save his mentor from the gallows. Westerson crafted a terrific story once again, full of twists and intrigue, and frankly a lot of frustration! Those sheriffs need a good swift kick. If it is infuriating to read about their petty tyrannies, how much worse must it be for poor Crispin to have to live and work with them. Another masterful job from Westerson. Highly recommended!
First published on the Historical Novel Society website: https://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/a-maiden-weeping/