cover image Cup of Blood: A Crispin Guest Medieval Noir Prequel

Cup of Blood: A Crispin Guest Medieval Noir Prequel

Jeri Westerson. Old London (, $12.99 trade paper (310p) ISBN 978-1-497476-12-7

A prequel, Westerson's seventh medieval noir (after 2013's Shadow of the Alchemist) lacks the cleverness that distinguished earlier entries in the series. In 1384, seven years after Crispin was implicated in a treasonous plot, the knight-turned-PI is relaxing in a London tavern when his pocket is picked. Upon apprehending the boy thief, Jack Tucker, Crispin finds that one of the other pickpocket's victims is no longer among the living. Naturally enough under the circumstances, the sheriff arrests Jack for poisoning the victim, who appears to have been a Templar knight. Despite the absence of a paying client, Crispin resolves to determine who the real killer is. The inquiry brings him back in touch with his old flame, Rosamunde, Lady Rothwell, who left Crispin after his disgrace. The resolution is more Raymond Chandler than Ellis Peters, but even longtime fans may find aspects of the resolution a letdown. (July)