An unlikely supporting character takes a prominent role, at the expense of credibility, in Westerson’s eighth Crispin Guest mystery (after 2014’s Cup of Blood). In 1388, an explosion inside London’s Westminster Abbey disrupts the Feast of the Holy Virgin’s Nativity, whose attendees include Richard II; Guest, who’s known as the Tracker for his investigative prowess; and Guest’s 15-year-old apprentice, Jack Tucker. No one is injured, but when the smoke clears, the Stone of Destiny, which was captured a century earlier from the Scots and stored underneath Edward I’s coronation chair, is gone. The king, who fears that he’ll appear weak if he goes before Parliament without the stone restored to the chair, gives Guest three days to retrieve it. Since Richard has his doubts about Guest’s loyalty, he holds Jack hostage to ensure the Tracker does his bidding. During the apprentice’s captivity, Jack manages to gain a powerful ally in a subplot that relies too much on contrivance. Despite the high stakes, Westerson fails to generate much suspense. Agent: Joshua Bilmes, Jabberwocky Literary Agency. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/14/2015 Release date: 02/01/2016 Genre: Fiction
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