Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Troubled Bones"

Jeri Westerson is the author of three previous books featuring Crispin Guest – Veil of Lies, Serpent in the Thorns, and The Demon's Parchment.

She applied the Page 69 Test to the latest book in the series, Troubled Bones, and reported the following:
Reading this for myself, it took me a minute to remember what was going on. Not necessarily representative of the book, this is a peek at some of the mystery. Crispin Guest, our ex-knight turned detective, is sent to Canterbury to guard the bones of the saint and martyr Thomas a Becket, but what he finds instead is murder. He has come to the room of Dame Marguerite, a young nun and companion to the murdered Prioress, to show her the murder weapon and to ask if she can identify the mysterious, hooded assailant.

In this trip to Canterbury, I was able to combine my medieval detective with one of my favorite childhood books, The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. My novel enrolls some of the pilgrims from the story and Geoffrey Chaucer himself as an old friend, and perhaps foil, of Crispin’s. Below, Crispin begins the conversation with:
“But you speak Latin—”

“Only enough to understand the Divine Office. Nothing more. Yes. It must have been Latin.”

“Do you know what it was?”

“No,” she said vaguely. “Perhaps—” She screwed her face and stared at her rosary. “Fortis et Patiens?”

Crispin stored this information for later and unwrapped only the pommel of the sword. He gingerly presented it to Dame Marguerite. “Do you recognize these arms?”

The pommel with the red enamel and the bear head glinted in the candlelight. He expected that she might pull back in horror, but she barely glanced at the sword’s pommel and shook her head. “I never saw it before.”

“Do you know any reason why someone would wish to harm the prioress?” And not you, were his unspoken thoughts.

The door opened again and in bundled Alyson with a sleepy-eyed Gelfridus. Crispin threw the wrappings over the sword hilt again and rose. “Father Gelfridus is here. I will take my leave.”

She reached out a white hand toward Crispin. The thin fingers stretched wide apart like twigs, the skin spreading taut over her hand. He was too far for her to reach but the gesture stopped him nonetheless. “You must do your best, Master Guest.”

He stood stiffly a moment, merely staring at her outstretched hand. “I will.” He bowed.

The wooden floor creaked under his heavy steps. He took Alyson aside while the priest bent over the girl in the bed.

“So much sadness in so young a life,” she said, shaking her head again. Crispin warmed to her sincerity. “She told me of her life in the priory,” she said softly. “How her mother became with child and was forced into the life of a scullion.”
Learn more about the author and her work at Jeri Westerson's website, her "Getting Medieval" blog, and the Crispin Guest Medieval Noir blog.

The Page 69 Test: Veil of Lies.

The Page 69 Test: Serpent in the Thorns.

The Page 69 Test: The Demon's Parchment.

My Book, The Movie: The Demon's Parchment.

--Marshal Zeringue