Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Demon's Parchment

The Demon's Parchment
A Medieval Noir
Jeri Westerson
Minotaur Books
St. Martin's Publishing Company
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-312-60926-9
Trade Paperback
October 2011
$ 14.99
327 pages
Oh, reading a well-written, well-researched, well-organized novel where the crime is horrendous, but the writing is so outstanding that you feel as if you are the investigator is a privilege and luxury. That is reading THE DEMON'S PARCHMENT.
THE DEMON'S PARCHMENT is one of a series in an unusual medieval series which is considered a noir by its darkness and style. This particular novel in Westerson's Crispin Guest series is the third, following VEIL OF LIES, and SERPENT OF THE THORNS. Previously, I have reviewed the fourth book, Troubled Bones, and enjoyed it so much that I was asked to look at the previous ones. These books can be read as standalone novels, but are definitely better when you know the characters and some of their history.
Crispin Guest is a former knight who lost everything when he was accused of treason and lost his favor with the king. Essentially living minimally in a bare existence now, with his young apprentice, Jack, he works as a Tracker, one who logically tracks from the victim back to the criminals.
Crispin has agreed to find the lost parchments stolen from a Jewish physician residing at the King's court. This is definitely unconventional since Jews are not allowed to be living in England at this time and were previously expelled. It was generally believed that those of this religion practiced human sacrifice.
Also, Crispin has agreed to help the new sheriff in stopping who is killing young boys in a distinctive gruesome manner. These unfortunate victims though have not been reported as missing. Why would someone give their son to another?
THE DEMON'S PARCHMENT is enthralling.   The characters are believable and likable with the murderer always being in disguise.   With shared responsibilities, the relationship between Crispin and Jack is strong while neither is without fault.   The supporting characters are outstanding with vivid descriptions and definitely showing the "shady" side of London while still demonstrating how nobility was frequently above the law.   With actual historical events being intertwined into this story, the reader truly feels like this mystery transports them to another time and place. THE DEMON'S PARCHMENT is not for the feint-of-heart.   The descriptions are graphic and gory.   However, this novel excels in all categories and proves that Jeri Westerson is a true story teller.

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