"Mordre wol out, that see we day by day."
Or 1940s Hollywood, for that matter.
But mean streets are mean streets, wherever -- or whenever -- you find them.
And the 14th century streets of old London are decidedly mean. CRISPIN GUEST is a disgraced knight who acts as a sort of freelance investigator and sword for hire in those streets, in a series of surprisingly gritty "medieval noirs," as the publisher calls them, by Jeri Westerson.
Crispin is a former nobleman, convicted of treason and stripped of his land, title and honor, after being implicated in a plot to bump off Richard II. He's been reduced to poverty and forced to make a living tracking down stolen items and, occasionally, criminals.
But once a nobleman, always a nobleman. Too proud to accept his lessened status, perhaps, but too steeped in his own personal code of honor to turn away, especially from a damsel in distress.
Don't be dissuaded by the setting -- the series is rife with enough doom, gloom and existential angst to qualify as noir. The jousting, the wenches, the squalor, the pageantry, the twisted murderous intrigue and political struggles among the church and the Royal Court, the occasional cameos by Crispin's good friend Geoffrey Chaucer and other historical figures, the endless flow of wine and ale, the wenching, the sword fights, the finely wrought historical details -- those are all just a bonus.
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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