cover image The Demon's Parchment: A Crispin Guest Medieval Noir

The Demon's Parchment: A Crispin Guest Medieval Noir

Jeri Westerson, Minotaur, $25.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-62104-9

Westerson's third 14th-century historical featuring disgraced knight Crispin Guest (after 2009's Serpent in the Thorns) is the best yet in the series, though the plotting and characterization remain a cut below that of, say, a master of the medieval subgenre like Susanna Gregory. Guest, who's developed a reputation as "the Tracker," pursues two cases: a Jewish doctor, Jacob of Provençal, retains him to recover some lost Hebrew manuscripts, and the sheriff of London asks for his help to trace a serial killer who's strangled and eviscerated four young boys. In the course of his inquiries, Guest encounters a hulking figure who may be the legendary golem, a creature molded from clay to protect the Jewish community. Those who may regard the serial killer story line as anachronistic will find a real-life model, Gilles de Rais, cited in the author's afterword. (Oct.)