Troubled Bones Review
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Ever since I first met medieval sleuth Crispin Guest, I’ve eagerly awaited each new crime-solving adventure through 14th-century London. In the fourth book in her Medieval Noir series, though, author Jeri Westerson shakes things up a bit—with a new setting and some clever new characters—to create her most ingenious installment yet.

In Troubled Bones, the disgraced knight turned private investigator and his 13-year-old protégé, Jack, travel from their home in London to Canterbury after Crispin is hired by the archbishop to protect the bones of Saint Thomas à Beckett. The archbishop fears for the safety of the 200-year-old relics, and he hires Crispin both to protect the bones and to find a heretic within the priory.

When Crispin and Jack arrive in Canterbury, they find themselves surrounded by a lively group of pilgrims—and Crispin is surprised to meet up with his old friend, Geoffrey Chaucer. But the reunion is cut short when Beckett’s bones are stolen and a pilgrim is murdered. As he searches for clues in the famed cathedral, Crispin is forced to send his young apprentice on an important mission.

  
 
After a shaky third installment in the series (2010’s The Demon’s Parchment), Westerson has climbed back up to the top of her game with the remarkable follow-up. Troubled Bones blends history, religion, and English literature to create a gripping 14th-century whodunit that’s seasoned with familiar characters, ancient curses, and just a hint of young love.

The fourth book in the series takes Crispin and Jack in some new and unexpected directions. Not only does it take place in a different city, but it also spends some time building a new hero. They’re risky moves to take, but both risks pay off in the end. As Crispin stays behind to search for more clues, Jack goes undercover as a visiting Franciscan monk. Though it’s been a pleasure getting to know Crispin in the last three novels, it’s also nice to see him step back and let his apprentice share the spotlight for a change. Jack has always been a lovable sidekick, and fans of the series will enjoy watching as he begins to come into his own as a smart young Tracker.

The journey away from London, meanwhile, allows Westerson to take a look at some different aspects of British life in the 14th century—and the results will delight history buffs and literary geeks alike. As always, Westerson makes the medieval setting spring to life on the page. At the same time, anyone who’s studied (or, better yet, enjoyed) Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales will be thrilled to find its legendary pilgrims interacting with Crispin and getting involved in the mystery.

Thoroughly researched and cleverly plotted, Troubled Bones is the very best of Westerson’s Medieval Noir series. Whether you’re in the mood for some dynamic historical fiction or a clever, character-driven mystery, Troubled Bones is the perfect choice.

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