Season of Blood
The medieval mystery subgenre is flooded with similar stories, characters that often blend into one another, and settings that are sometimes indistinguishable from one series to the next. However, that never seems to happen with Jeri Westerson’s medieval noir novels. Season of Blood, tenth in the Crispin Guest series, remains as fun and intriguing as the first. In this installment, Crispin finds himself embroiled in solving the murder of not one but two Cistercian monks and finding the missing niece of an alluring lady. At the crux of it all is a holy relic containing the blood of Christ, which flows only for the pure of heart.
Crispin is hired by a lady, Catherine Whitechurch, to find her niece, who has been seduced by a married man—who happens to be none other than Crispin’s old nemesis, the former sheriff Simon Wynchecombe. No sooner has Catherine paid her initial fee than a Cistercian monk shows up at Crispin’s door and drops dead, Wynchecombe’s dagger between his shoulder blades and a stolen monstrance containing the flowing blood of Christ in his hands. Crispin and his apprentice, Jack Tucker, take off to solve the crime, find Wynchecombe and the missing young woman, and return the relic to its rightful place.
The result is a fun and exciting romp through the streets of medieval London. Longtime readers of the series should be delighted with the return of Wynchecombe as well as the beloved characters of John Rykener (a historical cross-dressing prostitute) and Nigellus Cobmartin, lawyer extraordinaire. I was personally thrilled with… well, I won’t spoil it. But there was a minor plot point that had me grinning from ear to ear. All in all, this is another excellent addition to both the Crispin Guest series and to the canon of medieval mysteries overall. Highly recommended.