Veil of Lies Review
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When Crispin Guest—otherwise known around medieval London as The Tracker—is summoned by reclusive merchant Nicholas Walcote, he sees it as the perfect opportunity. The assignment is simple—so simple, in fact, that Crispin wouldn’t normally take the job. Walcote wants Crispin to follow his wife, Philippa, to discover whether she’s cheating on him. Though Crispin doesn’t usually waste his time with adultery cases, it’s a chance to build a profitable working relationship with a very wealthy new client, so he reluctantly agrees. But when he returns to give his report, he finds that Walcote has been murdered.

Fearing that she, too, is in danger, Mistress Walcote asks Crispin for help. She claims that, before his death, her husband had acquired a valuable relic—a veil imprinted with the face of Christ. The veil has brought them nothing but problems—and she wants Crispin to find it and get rid of it.

  
 
Of course, Crispin’s not the only one searching for the cloth. And as he continues to investigate Walcote’s murder, he comes in contact with some dangerous—and powerful—men.

Set in the manors and inns and alleyways of 1383 London, author Jeri Westerson’s Medieval Noir debut is a dark and haunting mystery, made all the more intriguing by its historical touches. Westerson’s detailed descriptions of Crispin’s regular haunts bring medieval London to life in a way that you’ve never imagined it—and you’ll enjoy exploring the city through Crispin’s eyes.

Meanwhile, with the turn of each new page of Veil of Lies, you’ll meet a fascinating new character—from wealthy businessmen to crafty cutpurses. But, of course, Crispin himself is the most fascinating (and most thoroughly developed) character. The disgraced former knight is trapped somewhere between his old life in the king’s court and his new life as a lowly tracker who’s struggling to survive. And although it’s been eight years since he was stripped of his land and title, he has a hard time accepting his place. He still sees the people around him as inferior in every way—even though many of them consider him a friend. He’s a deep and conflicted character—the perfect noir hero—and, once you get to know him, you’ll be eager to read more.

At the same time, though, the multitude of suspects and their interconnected storylines does, at times, make Veil of Lies a rather complex read—and, to be perfectly honest, I’m still not entirely sure how all of the characters fit together. But that complexity also makes for a gripping mystery. Westerson will taunt you with hints and clues, leading you in all kinds of different directions. And just when you start patting yourself on the back for figuring it all out, she’ll throw in another clue that will have you rethinking everything.

So, despite its sometimes maddening complexities, Veil of Lies is a memorable mystery—and a solid debut. I highly recommend picking up a copy—and, while you’re at it, pick up Westerson’s (even better) follow-up, Serpent in the Thorns, too.

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