Wednesday, December 15, 2010

VEIL OF LIES by Jeri Westerson

Publisher: St. Martins
Date Published: October 2009
ISBN: 9780312580124
Historical Fiction/Suspense
Reviewed by Gina
Obtained via Library

Accused of treason, his rank as a knight stripped from him along with his position, lands and all he once held dear, Crispin Guest has taken on the role of the Tracker. As the Tracker he combs the dark and dangerous streets of 14th century London, consorting with thieves and other miscreants to solve even greater crimes. There are some cases he will not take, such as spying on an adulterous spouse. When Nicholas Walcote offers him such a position, despite his desire to walk away from the sordid spying, Crispin takes the job because he desperately needs the coin it will pay. When he sees the unfaithful wife leave within minutes of his departure from the Walcote home, he trails after her. With cunning and guile, he is able to see the very man Philippa has taken to consorting with. When he returns to Walcote to report his findings, the last thing he expects is to find his employer dead. Not only dead, but murdered.

But how? How can a man locked in a room from within have been killed? No one could gain entrance, so how was Nicholas Walcote murdered? As Crispin embarks on his quest to solve that very puzzle, he finds another mystery at every turn. Mysteries that may well cost him his life. With people not being who they seem and others doggedly following a sworn path, Crispin’s own life hangs in the balance.

I “met” Jeri Westerson through the Sisters in Crime and her books came to my attention when she mentioned her latest release, THE DEMON’S PARCHMENT. Being one of those people who has to read a series from page one of the first book I picked up VEIL OF LIES. Between Deanna Raybourn and Tasha Alexander’s Victorian suspense/mysteries, I am quickly becoming a fan of historical mysteries. Jeri Westerson has also moved onto my list of “have to read” authors. So much so I picked up book two, SERPENT IN THE THORNES before I finished VEIL OF LIES.

There are segments in VEIL OF LIES that are incredibly dark. Ms. Westerson speaks to that in her Afterword where she talks about the hard-boiled detectives given to us by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. Tough acts to follow and she does so with style and class. I had a bit of time getting a fix on Crispin’s looks in my mind, until toward the end she mentions his “sable chest hair.” That solidified just how darkly dangerous and oh so vulnerable he is. Cripin is a different kind of tortured hero. He was raised, trained and believed in the right, in all things knightly, but through a cruel twist of fate all was taken from him. Now his very life can be forfeit on a whim of the King. He walks a fine line between arrogance and desperation, altruism and need. He is a complex and many layered character, one who surprises his reader at every turn.

If you haven’t tried Jeri Westerson, I strongly encourage you to do so. You won’t be disappointed.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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