Veil of Lies: A Medieval Noir by Jeri Westerson. Minotaur Books (2008).
I'm always a little wary when I pick up a first novel, but Jeri Westerson has restored my faith. Kudos to Jeri for persevering through fourteen years of trying to get published and to Minotaur Books for giving her a chance. Veil of Lies is by far the best first novel I've read this year. In fact, it doesn't feel like a first novel at all.
Veil of Lies "a medieval noir" set in 1384 London that combines Westerson's love of medieval history and hard-boiled detective fiction. The history behind the mystery is obviously well-researched. Westerson convincingly portrays this time period. Yet there is also a timelessness to the story, which I think reflects mid-20th century detective fiction. The main character is Crispin Guest, a disgraced knight, that uses his wits and training to solve crimes. His sidekick, Jack, is a lovable character, reminiscent of Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. There is, of course, a damsel in distress too. Westerson's character development is excellent and her plot is well-crafted. From cover to cover, Veil of Lies held my attention and kept me guessing. This is a winner for any fan of historical fiction and/or mystery.
I'm thrilled that Westerson already has another Crispin Guest novel in the works and will eagerly await its publication. Veil of Lies is scheduled for release on October 28, 2008, and I urge you to buy it the second it hits the shelves.