Sunday, March 20, 2016

Jeri Westerson, Veil of Lies

Jeri Westerson. Veil of Lies
St. Martin's Minotaur Books;  2008
ISBN-13: 978-0312580124
Also available as an ebook

The first of a series, currently encompassing eight books.  Five of the books in the series have been nominated for awards; none have yet won.

Crispin Guest, who had been a knight in the service of the Duke of Lancaster (John of Gaunt), having picked the wrong side in a dynastic struggle, finds himself having been dispossessed (and lucky to be alive).  He makes a tenuous living by finding things lost or stolen.  Eight years after his fall, he is hired by Nicholas Walcote, a cloth merchant, to discover whether his wife (Philippa) is unfaithful.  Before Guest can complete his commission, Walcote has been murdered.  Philippa is herself an interesting character of whom it would be nice to read more (although I doubt that will happen.)

The plot is complex, but extremely well-handled, and involves sacred relics (authentic, or perhaps not), representatives of Venetian baron, and of middle eastern powers, a Sheriff of London, and assorted hangers-on.  Guest’s one servant, a young boy names Jack, is nicely portrayed, and I suspect he will grow in importance as the series progresses.  Both the development of the search for a murderer and the other aspects of the keep the narrative moving nicely along, and the denouement follows from everything that we have learned along the way,

Westerson manages, to my non-expert knowledge, a very good job of evoking both the physical London of the late 14th century and the politics of the kingdom (which were, to say the least, somewhat tangled).  Guest is an interesting figure, and if I felt that he had not adequately made a somewhat better peace with his situation (after 8 years), well, that’s probably because I’ve never had my life completely shattered. 

One nice thing about coming into a series in the middle, if it’s a good series, is that there’s more to read right now.  I look forward to proceeding.

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