Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A Maiden Weeping by Jeri Westerson

First Sentence: His head snapped up for the second time.
Well into drink, an unknown man sits next to former knight Crispin Guest, gives him a pouch of silver and the address of a woman he is to murder, and disappears.  Although drunk, Guest tries to warn the woman, Elizabeth le Porter, with whom he becomes intimate before passing out, and finds murdered upon awaking.  However, upon being attacked by the brothers Norey, one brother ends up dead, Guest is arrested, and it's now up to Chrispin’s apprentice, Jack, with the help of newly certified barrister Nigellus Cobmartin, to free Guest.  Can they prove Guest's innocence and find the true killer?
It's always nice when authors, particularly those who write historical mysteries, include a forward which provides background and information about the period in which the story is set, as well as how they may have diverted from historical fact to serve the needs of the story. Having a glossary of terms is also a welcome addition.
Westerson doesn't ease one into the story.  As with her characters, she throws the audience into mystery and danger from the outset, while also giving us a sense as to the nature of the protagonist--"It was time for the Tracker to do his moral duty.  Sometimes, he really hated that sense of honor."
The characters, fully dimensional, are brought to life.  The dialogue has the flavour of the period without being heavy-handed--"I am no saint, sir, and, hopefully, no martyr.  "Crispin" I am.  You may have my leave, Master Nigellus."
Westerson is very good at creating wonderful twists while adding layer upon layer to the plot. Beyond the suspense and excitement, it is also a very human story about honor, trust, and commitment that can touch the emotions. There are also plenty of really well-done plot twists.
 “A Maiden Weeping” is a wonderful read, filled with delightful characters, and a story this rather similar to a child's dancing button toy, but with many more threads that start out separate, become much more intertwined as you go, and resolve themselves nicely in the end.

A Maiden Weeping (Hist Mys-Crispen Guest/Jack Tucker- England-1389/Medieval) - VG
      Westerson, Jeri - 8th in publishing order (9th in series order)
      Severn House, August 2016

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