Sword of Shadows (A Crispin Guest Mystery)

Written by Jeri Westerson
Review by Franca Pelaccia

Sword of Shadows is the thirteenth installment of the Crispin Guest Medieval Noir series. It’s 1396, and the Tracker of London, Crispin Guest, and his apprentice Jack Tucker are hired by Carantok Teague, a treasure hunter with special permission from the crown to locate valuable relics. Carantok has a map that will lead them to Excalibur, the legendary sword of King Arthur. The three set out for Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, only to find the body of a castle guard in a crypt instead of the sword, and then another guard a couple days later. For Crispin, the search for the sword takes a back seat to discovering the murderer. His search, however, is filled with one complication after another, including how his old flame Kat Pyke, a thief and scam artist, is involved; the first victim’s many female conquests; and a hidden and possibly dangerous Druid village.

Although Crispin tries to play it down, he is a disgraced knight whose reputation always precedes him. His lack of funds drives him to a job, but his sense of right and wrong and his much-too-soft spot for the sorrowful story always take precedence over money and endear him to the reader. He has a paternal attitude toward Jack, which he masks, but it extends to others, including the first victim’s jilted conquests, whom he scolds in order to set things straight. As much as he’d like to ignore his heart and conscience, he can’t, and the predicaments he finds himself in are often amusing and entertaining.

Sword of Shadows is a fun, sometimes rambling, and enjoyable whodunnit with a likeable and sympathetic hero who doesn’t want to be, amusing secondary characters, plot twists, and—since it is a story of a legendary sword—a touch of the mythical.