Saturday, July 27, 2019

Review: Traitor's Codex by Jeri Westerson

Traitor's Codex (Crispin Guest Medieval Noir, Book #12)
by Jeri Westerson
Release Date: June 1st 2019
2019 Severn House Publishers
Kindle Edition: 224 Pages
ISBN: 978-0727892300
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

Crispin Guest, Tracker of London, is enjoying his ale in the Boar's Tusk tavern - until a stranger leaves a mysterious wrapped bundle on his table, telling him, "You'll know what to do." Inside is an ancient leather-bound book written in an unrecognizable language. Accompanied by his apprentice, Jack Tucker, Crispin takes the unknown codex to a hidden rabbi, where they make a shocking discovery: it is the Gospel of Judas from the Holy Land, and its contents challenge the very doctrine of Christianity itself. Crispin is soon drawn into a deadly maze involving murder, living saints, and lethal henchmen. Why was he given the blasphemous book, and what should he do with it? A series of horrific events confirm his fears that there are powerful men who want it - and who will stop at nothing to see it destroyed.

My Thoughts
Traitor's Codex is the twelfth entry in the Crispin Guest Medieval Noir series, and while it is a fun and interesting entry in this series, I really felt like it was story meant to link the previous stage to the next stage of his career.  So, while the story was interesting and Crispin was able to lay some ghosts to rest, so to speak, I thought the mystery was a bit lacking.

First of all, what I did really like in this book. The author always does a really great job at developing her characters and this book is no exception.  I have been reading this series since the first book was published and Crispin has come a long way from the man he was in that book to the kind and thoughtful man he is now.  He actually thinks about other people's well-being and even regrets not knowing some people better before their deaths, taking the time to really get to know them, to sit down with them and discourse about things.  It was interesting to see his revelations and his personal strengths develops throughout the series and he has become a more interesting character because of it. I also liked to see some resolution between Crispin and King Richard II; I know my history very well and know what is coming so it was nice to see some association between Lancaster, Richard, and Crispin.  There was even some teaser moments that included Henry, Lancaster's son, which I think will build towards future books, and I can't wait to see what happens there.  

The plot itself was interesting and moved fairly quickly, most of it taking place within a few short days. However, this book is touted to be a mystery novel and while there was a mystery, with an old scroll literally being dropped in Crispin's lap, I really felt like the mystery was not the central theme in this one.  Crispin did a lot of running around to try and translate the scroll, but most of the events around that had to do more with his life and the people in his past than with the actual mystery.  I do want to highlight here though, the importance of that scroll during this time period.  Possessing a Gospel of Judas that contained different information from what was being preached would have landed one on a pyre and was so incredibly dangerous, something I don't think the author highlighted enough, despite the deaths. Written texts were so highly prized in a society where 90% of the population could not read or write.  I think if I had not read the other books in this series, I would have rated this one higher than I did, but I found the earlier books to be a bit more suspenseful and the mysteries to be a bit more complex than this one.

Traitor's Codex was an interesting and fun entry into a really great series.  I really wish the author had pushed the Gospel of Judas text a bit more and highlighted the dangers of such a text more in her story as I don't think it went far enough. Crispin and Jack continue to develop in interesting ways and I love both of their characters.  Knowing what is in store for King Richard II, I am really curious as to how the author will develop Crispin' story in the future and what will happen to Jack. There are definitely some interesting times ahead.  And while you don't necessarily have to start at the beginning of this series in order to understand what is happening, the earlier books are really good, and I would recommend them. If you like historical mystery, this is a good series in which to indulge.