Fresh Meat: Blood Lance by Jeri Westerson

Blood Lance by Jeri WestersonBlood Lance by Jeri Westerson is the fifth Crispin Guest medieval noir mystery (available October 16, 2012).

If you’re a history buff with a penchant for romantic suspense that borders on noir, Jeri Westerson delivers the goods. A touch of 14th century London. A murder and joust at London Bridge. A visit to Westminster. Finely wrought armour and a religious relic of inestimable worth. Geoffrey Chaucer, belligerent sheriffs, an unsuitable wench, a beloved but aging archbishop, and not-so-knightly knights. Read a few of the earlier books in the series first, however, or you’ll miss character development. In Blood Lance, histories are a little bit vague and possibly too numerous for newcomers to the series.

In this, the fifth book, Crispin Guest sees an armourer’s body fall from one of the buildings that line the length of London Bridge. Crispin does not believe the death was a suicide and investigates with his orphaned apprentice. They uncover the theft of a relic the dead armourer was paid to locate. The customer, the bedeviled and unhappy Sir Thomas, apparently suffers battle fatigue. Having once fought side by side with Sir Thomas, Crispin agrees to recover the artifact.

Crispin is an outcast worthy of the noir genre. I was intrigued by the premise: A nobleman is disgraced, stripped of his title and wealth. Reduced to poverty, he must eke out a living as a finder of stolen items and, occasionally, criminals. He’s a flawed character, too proud to accept the squalor he cannot escape, too romantic to overcome the wiles of women who use and abuse him, and too steeped in his own code of honor to avoid peril.

“Thomas,” said Crispin without thinking. When his mind caught up, he found, to his shame, that he was obliged to bow. Bow to a man who had sometimes been his equal on the lists and in battle. But a man who had not been his equal in social standing. If anything, he had been lower than Crispin. Yet now it was Crispin who bowed, and not Sir Thomas.

Sir Thomas’s face showed that he recognized the irony, too. He simply stood, staring at his onetime friend, unable to say anything for his surprise.

. . . .

“But . . .” Sir Thomas looked him over from head to foot. At least his coat was only a year old now, not the beaten and patched cotehardie he had worn for years. But his stockings had seen better days and the soles of his shoes were loose and flapping. He wore only a dagger at his side, not a sword, not as Sir Thomas sported, hanging from its frog at the stout leather belt.

Crispin was starkly aware of his only ornament, the signet ring upon his finger, a bauble he had denied himself for too many years. But the Guest arms belonged to him and, now more than ever, he felt the need to display them, if not on a surcote then at least on his family ring.

And a domestic scene:

Jack moved away from the hearth to fetch the wine jug from the back windowsill, poured some into a pan, and placed it over the trivet in the fire, crouching beside it. He grinned up at Crispin, chuckling. “You jumped into the Thames.”

Crispin rolled his eyes. “Yes, if a foolish thing has been done, no doubt it was me doing it.”

“I knew it was you. I would have laid down coin on it.”

“Perhaps you should wager next time.”

“Perhaps I will.” He rolled the wine in the pan, watching the steam feathering upward. Rising, he grabbed two bowls from the pantry shelf and poured the warmed wine into them; the larger steaming bowl he handed to Crispin.

“To your good health, sir,” said Jack, eyes crinkled in mirth as he raised his bowl.

Too often he is overly trusting, but Crispin finds that on this quest he can rely on no one but Jack. He and his friend, the poet Geoffrey Chaucer, have a complex and charged relationship. The poet, a commoner, has overcome his class and won the nobility’s respect. In contrast, Crispin has hurtled from knighthood to the common classes and can’t win back the esteem he once took for granted.

Westerson does a terrific job depicting scene and interiors. But I was hungry for more about streets that seemed both literally and figuratively cloaked in mist. I wanted to walk with Crispin to his lodgings in the meat district called the Shambles, over the London Bridge that figured so prominently, to the tavern where he gleaned information, and to the stables where most of the criminal violence took place. I wanted to see what he saw, wished for both map and atmosphere, and felt a bit lost, taking numerous laps around the same neighborhoods without a feel for distance or direction.

What she does especially well is weave period detail with murder. The investigation and the crime itself could have taken place in no era or locale but that of medieval London.

This sweepstakes has ended.

Like historicals? Like noir? Not sure, and want to try it out? Comment for a chance to win one of ten Advance Review Copies of Blood Lance by Jeri Westerson!

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 or older. To enter, fill out entry at beginning at 09:30 am. Eastern Time (ET) October 16, 2012. Sweepstakes ends at 11:59 a.m. ET on October 23, 2012 (the “Promotion Period”). Void outside of the 50 US and DC and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules at Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010

See our full coverage of new releases with our Fresh Meat series.

Lois Karlin writes fiction and blogs at Women of Mystery. In the pursuit of authenticity she’s learned to dag sheep and take down a silo, and knows where to deep six a body in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Read all Lois Karlin’s posts on Criminal Element.


  1. Trisha Banicki

    this sounds really interesting, am intrigued to see how the rest of the book is.

  2. MaryC

    Sounds intriguing and certainly different from anything I am currently reading. Is it necessary to read the series in order?

  3. Linda

    Love to win…the book sounds sooo good

  4. Jeffrey Tretin

    The combination of historical fiction and mystery is great. Thank you for the giveaway.

  5. Karl Stenger

    I would love to read the book

  6. Barbara Bibel

    I can’t wait to read the new Crispin! Jeri will be speaking at my library in November. It will be so nice to talk with her.

  7. HOTCHA1

    sounds wonderful

  8. Sally

    This book sounds as good as the rest of the series; looking forward to it.

  9. Erin Hartshorn

    I’ve not read any of this series yet, but I can see I need to rectify that.

  10. Lesley Fuchs

    Looks like a great read!

  11. Gordon Bingham

    Have thoroughly enjoyed this series & am looking forward to the new one!

  12. Aaron Robbins

    looks interesting.

  13. Kathy Fannon

    I would love to try out the series

  14. Rex Bull

    Sounds like a very interesting series.

  15. Louis Burklow

    Never heard of medieval noir until now. Wonder how they went medieval on someone back then? Sounds like fun and I’d like to read it.

  16. Carol in Maryland

    I’ve not read this series yet, but have heard good things about it. Would love to try it.

  17. M W

    Sounds interesting…

  18. Allison Moyer

    Wow! This book has a little bit of everything.

  19. Joanna Hernandez

    I would love to win this!

  20. Patricia Hill

    History and mystery-a great combination.

  21. lasvegasnv

    I’d like to read it.

  22. Jackie Wisherd

    I love to read Historicals but have never read one set in medevial times…would love the chance to read this one.

  23. Lisa Kaiser

    I have been curious about this series of awhile. The idea of medieval noir is very intriguing! Blood Lance looks like a terrific read!

  24. Heather Martin

    This genre is my 1st love. Nobody seems to write it anymore. I’m glad to see it making a reappearance.

  25. Taylorr


  26. Peter W. Horton Jr.

    A flawed Knight-My kind of person!

  27. Andrew Kuligowski

    “Historical noir??” Sounds like a great read!!

  28. vicki wurgler

    I do like historicals

  29. Kristen Faro

    Sounds very interesting. I will definitely have to start on the first novels. Love historical reads.

  30. Robert Banning

    Jousting on London Bridge? Sign me up!

  31. Ellen

    I love medieval mysteries.

  32. Kim Adsit

    I have yet to read any medieval mysteries, this book sounds very good, i would love to give it a try!

  33. Susan Meek

    Love historicals and I’d like to try this one.

  34. Jean Delaney

    Jousting is a much better use of London Bridge than Olympic rings.

  35. Cheryl English

    This book has captured my attention.

  36. Cindi Hoppes

    I love reading historical books whether they are fiction or
    non-fiction! Many thanks, Cindi

  37. Becca Hollingsworth

    Sounds really interesting; I’ll have to catch up with this series.

  38. Melissa Keith

    I love historicals! Never read one with a touch of noir. This is one wench who would love to win and read this book! 🙂

  39. Karen Gonyea

    Another great sounding book 🙂

  40. Bob Keck

    I like how the language flows – some books set in that era trudge due to the archaic language.

  41. Amber

    I’d love to read this – hope I win!

  42. barbara studer

    love the historical fiction–best way to learn history!!! thanks for the draw:)

  43. Daniel Morrell

    sounds like a fun one

  44. Vicky Boackle

    i like to read historical fiction.

  45. cheryl wong

    would love to read this

  46. Cheryl McCauley

    would love this

  47. runner


  48. Joe Hauser

    Very nice!

  49. Clayton Klein

    Great ! Deap do do !

  50. kathy pease

    Thank you for the great giveaway please count me in 🙂

  51. tracey johnson

    i would love to read this

  52. Ed Nemmers

    I would love to read Jeri Westerson!

  53. Vernon Luckert

    Looks like a really good read!

  54. Michael Gonzales

    I’ve never read a medieval mystery. This might be interesting.

  55. Sand Lopez

    I would love to win this!

  56. Heather Cowley

    Do love historical fiction. Thanks for the giveaway.

  57. Tammy Greer

    I love a good Medieval book. Would love to read this.

  58. Debra Kidle

    One of my fave genres to read!

  59. Buddy Garrett

    I love reading books set in the Medieval era. Thanks for the giveaway.

  60. Daniel Vice

    I’d like to read this

  61. Carol Gowett

    I read a review of this in another place and added the whole series to my list to get my hands on.

  62. Lisa Pecora

    I do not read historical books, but I’d like to try one.

  63. Susan Smoaks

    i would love to read this!

  64. Ciara Bungo

    would love to read this 🙂

Comments are closed.