Crispin Guest has fallen far from his privileged position as a knight in medieval high society. Accused of treason, abandoned by former friends and allies, he has survived on the gritty streets of London by reinventing himself as “The Tracker”, a private investigator for hire who can locate lost objects or uncover the clandestine lives of people.
When the secretive, wealthy merchant Nicholas Walcote hires Guest to investigate his alluring young wife Philippa for adultery, he discovers a seedy underworld of covert dealings and violent men of mystery. Philippa is indeed hiding something and she’s not the only one. Guest soon learns that Walcote is rumored to be in possession of a mystical holy relic so powerful that some would even kill for it.
Guest must contend with his nemesis, Sheriff Simon Wynchcombe in the search for answers to the questions surrounding the mysterious Walcotes. With each new day comes another layer of intrigue and Guest quickly becomes entangled in a strange world of superstition, seduction, and murder.
Crispin Guest, a former knight who was stripped of his rank after being implicated in a plot against Richard II, now makes his living as a tracker, the medieval equivalent of a PI, in Westerson's promising debut, set in 1384 London. Nicholas Walcote, a wealthy cloth merchant, hires Guest to investigate his younger and attractive wife, Philippa, whom he suspects of infidelity. Guest's cursory probe is derailed after his client is found stabbed to death in a locked room. Philippa retains Guest's services to find her husband's killer, who may have been motivated by Walcote's possessing a legendary relic reputed to force those in its proximity to tell the truth. While featuring a hard-boiled medieval sleuth instead of a monk or a nun may not be quite as groundbreaking as the author suggests in her afterword (e.g., Susanna Gregory's 14th-century Cambridge physician Matthew Bartholomew), this is nonetheless an entertaining read that makes the prospect of sequels welcome.