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Serpent in the Thorns: A Medieval Noir (A Crispin Guest Medieval Noir Book 2) Kindle Edition

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Length: 287 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Westerson's second medieval mystery to feature former English knight Crispin Guest (after 2008's Veil of Lies) works better as a suspense novel than as a whodunit. Implicated in a plot against Richard II, the disgraced Guest (aka the Tracker) has reinvented himself as an investigator for hire, with both private and public clients. One day in 1384, Grayce, a simpleminded scullion, seeks Guest's help because there's a dead man in her room at the King's Head Inn in Southwark. Grayce claims she killed the man, who turns out to have been a French courier bearing a gift for the English king—the legendary Crown of Thorns, rumored to have been worn by Jesus and to have the ability to confer special powers on its wearer. The Tracker soon finds himself in a political tempest. Westerson's mix of period terms and American tough-guy prose—at one point an archer asks the detective, Didn't you use to be somebody?—may grate on the ears of some historical fans. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Westerson adds flavor to the tale by enhancing the relationship between Guest and his young helper. Readers who can't get enough of medieval historicals will snap this one up. --Library Journal

Distinctively entertaining --Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

  • File Size: 639 KB
  • Print Length: 287 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (September 29, 2009)
  • Publication Date: September 29, 2009
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003H4I44A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #257,602 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Hey, thanks for stopping by.

I'm Jeri Westerson and I write medieval mysteries with an enigmatic, flawed, sexy, and very different protagonist. His name is Crispin Guest and he's an ex-knight turned private eye. You might want to think of him as a Medieval Sam Spade and these mysteries as Medieval Noir. That's what makes these novels different. They're full of hard-hitting action and characters with dirty little secrets. Then there's the added twist dropped in the middle of murder: a relic with mystical powers. They always seem to stir things up, whether it's something everyone wants to get their hands on or can't wait to get rid of.

The latest is CUP OF BLOOD, available in print and ebook on Amazon, Nook, and Smashwords.

The Boston Globe called my detective, "A medieval Sam Spade, a tough guy who operates according to his own moral compass and observes with detached humor...this book is pure fun."

"Clever twists and convincing period detail make Westerson's fifth 14th-century historical featuring disgraced knight Crispin Guest one of her best." -- Publishers Weekly

"Guest's fifth adventure again provides a lively tale of historical interest smoothly combined with a worthy mystery." -Kirkus Review

I also have a short story, "Universal Donor" in the anthology MURDER AND MAYHEM IN MUSKEGO, edited by Jon and Ruth Jordan; the story "Noodle Girl" in the Kindle only anthology SHAKEN: STORIES FOR JAPAN, edited by Tim Hallinan; and be looking out for my short "Mesmer Manuever" in the serial Operator #5 anthology NIGHT OF THE INSURGENTS, edited by Gary Philips, to be released some time 2014.

You can also download some short stories of mine for 99 cents: "The Noodle Girl", "The Tin Box", and "Catching Elijah".

Some personal facts: I was born and bred in Los Angeles inhaling smog and enduring earthquakes. I've been writing fiction for some time, became a freelance reporter, published award-winning short stories, and am scribbling away at the Crispin Guest series and a new contemporary paranormal series.

Check out the Crispin Store here:

See the Crispin series book trailer and book discussion guides at

Read about Crispin's life on his own blog at

"Friend" us on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter @jeriwesterson

Besides writing I am a public speaker, artist, singer, wife, and mother. I am President for the Southern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and a member of the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters in Crime, the Historical Novel Society, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. I live with my photographer husband, have a screenwriting son, and herd two cats, one tortoise, a bevy of bees--and the occasional tarantula-- in my home in Southern California.

To sign up for my newsletter, go to my website and click on the shield:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Nash Black VINE VOICE on October 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jeri Westerson has penned A SERPENT IN THORNS to extend her opening medieval noir mystery, A VEIL OF LIES. Crispin Guest, a dishonored knight, is yanked from a bad hangover to come to the aid of a simple scullery maid who claims she killed a man in her room.
He finds the body of a French courier with an arrow in his throat with a special gift from the King of France to the young Richard II. A swift search of the man's belongings shows he was not robbed and the gold casket containing the famous crown of thorns is intact. Crispin's first allegiance is to his client and her sister who pays his fee.
Many men want the gift to insulate themselves with the king, who as a child stripped Crispin of his lands and knighthood. Crispin wants the truth and to regain his knighthood. The plot is intricate and fast paced, it will keep you glued to your chair as you follow Crispin and his London slums servant through the dark allies of London to the hall of the King in search of answers. The Tracker finds lost things and discovers answers he may not want to obtain from the world of Court politics.
The previous reviewer should check KINGS, RULERS, AND STATESMEN p. 187-188 for verification of time periods, as I did when her review puzzled me.
Nash Black, author of Indie Finalists WRITING AS A SMALL BUSINESS and HAINTS.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Adams on December 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The one-word review: Wow! I was gobsmacked, knocked out, my socks knocked off, too by the excellence of Ms. Westerson's book and moved to tears by its pitch-perfect ending. Not only is it one of the best books I've read this year, but SERPENT IN THE THORNS has just joined the select ranks of my personal all-time best list, equaling this year's other big find for me, Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series, in its big heart and soul and its non-stop action involving the beleaguered hero in ever-escalating peril as he struggles to do the right thing.

From the beginning we are plunged into 12th-century London in all its sensory squalor and splendor with details that never overwhelm characters and story but place them in a satisfyingly realized culture and milieu that transports the reader as if s/he had stepped into a time machine. I was hooked from the opening paragraphs where Crispin Guest, disgraced former knight, wakes from a hangovered sleep to confront a lower-class woman pleading for help. His new title and profession is "the Tracker," a man who finds missing objects and investigates crime. The new client's problem? There is a dead man in her room and she has no idea who he is. From there, the pages fly under our fingers and the action never stops.

But like Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series, the non-stop action is grounded in the deeper themes of honor and what makes life worth living, themes that play throughout the book in the fully realized, three-dimensional characters of Crispin and his friends and foes. The course of redemption that Crispin charts is reminiscent of William Monk's progress in Anne Perry's well-loved series.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By April on November 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Set in London in 1384, this is the second in the Medieval Noir series (the first being VEIL OF LIES), featuring Crispin Guest, formerly a knight and protege of the powerful John of Gaunt, but stripped of his title and his lands when involved in a treason plot seven years before, his life saved only by intervention by his powerful patron. Crispin now roams the slums of medieval London, scraping out a living as a Finder (a sort of inquiry agent of his time period), or for whatever else his skills make him worth hiring. So, when a simple-minded tavern girl finds a dead man in her room whom she thinks she must have killed since she was the only one present (ignoring the fact that he was killed by an arrow and she does not have a bow), she runs to Crispin for help. The dead man turns out to be a French courier, in charge of a sacred relic meant as a gift for young King Richard II, without which both countries threaten war. Crispin wonders if he can work his way back into the King's favor if he returns the artifact... or better yet, find out who is behind a threat to the King's life-- only to find himself accused of attempted murder himself.

An assassin is loose in London and Crispin is in for lots of action and bodily harm in evading authorities and attempts on his life. He must deal with dangers on the mean streets of London as well as the even more hazardous maze of a Court full of intrigue and international tension. The mystery of the dead courier and the possible assassin is complicated by the return of a figure from Crispin's past--the one man who led him into the treasonous plot that ruined his life. The setting seems true to period as well as figuring convincingly as a noir-like background.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Penny L. Bloodhart on July 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An excellent read in many respects. The detail of the period seemed solid, the touch of supernatural grace was intriguing, and a few new characters were introduced who seem to hold promise for future installations. However, I found myself flipping through (or pressing my "next page" button) way too often during some of the chase sequences, and found that our hero, Crispin, was acting like an idiot. His choices at the end were definitely based upon modern sentiment. I was a bit annoyed at the portrayal of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster in this book. He was a powerful and occasionally enigmatic historical figure, but I think there is some injustice done to him in this story. I also note that during one scene his Duchess was supposed to be lovingly concerned...however, he and the Duchess Costanza apparently had a very rough relationship most of the time. Their marriage was based upon John's ambition and her desire to be Queen of Castile and avenge her father and apparently very little sentiment was involved. I wonder if Crispin will join the forces of Henry Bolingbroke in the future and assist in Richard's overthrow?
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