Shadow of the Alchemist: A Medieval Noir

Written by Jeri Westerson
Review by Alana White

This entertaining series featuring Crispin Guest never disappoints. Once a wealthy knight, Crispin was stripped of his title when he was found guilty of treason (and rightly so). Now, with the help of his young “apprentice,” Crispin makes his way in the seedy neighborhoods of 14th-century London as the Tracker, investigating murder, kidnappings – whatever sustains his living.

In this 6th entry into the series, Crispin comes up against murder, a kidnapping, alchemy, and the search for the Philosopher’s Stone. Along the way, he engages with his former friend, powerful Henry, Lord Derby, who is battling King Richard II’s refusal to open Parliament.

Westerson whips history and mystery into a delicious blend. It has been a pleasure to watch Crispin transform in these books from a bitter man into one who has (somewhat) accepted his lot in life… always glimpsing the chance to reclaim his former status. Crispin helps people. Some admire him, while others fear him. He still drinks too much. And he gets beat up a lot. It would be interesting to know what path Crispin would choose if he did have the chance to rejoin the king’s court (with no strings this time around) and actually exchange his hard-earned rags for his lost riches.