Troubled Bones: A Medieval Noir by Jeri Westerson

Troubled BonesReviewed by Teri Davis

In the year of 1385, Crispin Guest has a new assignment in Canterbury, England protecting the bones of Thomas a Beckett from being stolen and destroyed. Unfortunately, one of the first people he meets there is his old former friend, Geoffrey Chaucer. Obviously, the two forfeited their former friendship and now Crispin visibly shows animosity around Chaucer.

Almost immediately, a prioress is murdered in the exact spot where Beckett was assassinated nearly two-hundred years earlier. Added to that, Beckett’s bones are missing and another unrelated murder occurs. Were Beckett’s bones missing before Crispin came to Canterbury?

With Crispin is Jack Tucker, his young companion and apprentice, who falls in love immediately with a young nun, the one who witnessed the prioress’s murder. Meanwhile, Chaucer is imprisoned by the archbishop who plans to execute him if is Crispin does not discover the real murderer.

The story parallels much of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in this medieval setting. Jeri Westerson excels in placing the reader back into this time period with the problems of the times being the Franklin thought versus the Lancaster. Basically, this controversy was over the idea that the bones of a saint could possibly heal or work miracles. What would people then do if the bones were destroyed?
Also revealed was the reality of the author Chaucer, who really was a spy for Lancaster. The issue of loyalty and the results of supporting the wrong brother in the royal family also demonstrated the actuality of the time. Many of the characters were based on real events and people of the time period.

Troubled Bones is the fourth book in this series featuring Crispin Guest. Veil of Lies is the first novel in this series with Serpent in the Thorns and The Demon’s Parchment following. Without having read the first three novels, this enthralling mystery superbly can be read as a standalone. Obviously, the reader will have more insight to character development if they read the first three novels to truly understand Crispin and Jack.

While reading this short mystery, I was impressed by how well the author knew the time period and people’s thoughts and reactions. Troubled Bones succeeded in having me travel to another time and place through the masterful author, Jeri Westerson.

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