I love Jeri Westerson's Crispin Guest novels and look forward with great anticipation to each installment. Shadow of the Alchemist is Book 6, and it doesn't disappoint--though I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite in the series. I think my favorite is always the one I am reading at the time.
Once a Knight of the Realm, Crispin has been stripped of his title and lands and is now forced to earn a meager living as The Tracker, a man who can find anything for a price. He has a young apprentice who helps him in these matters, Jack Tucker, a reformed thief that Crispin has taken under his wing. The lost item this time around is the wife and apprentice of Nicholas Flamel, a renowned alchemist. This search has plenty of twists and turns (none of which I want to give away here, because there is much pleasure in the reading as each one is revealed)--but it involves the Philosopher's Stone, which is believed to turn lead into gold and create the elixir of life.
Westerson's richly detailed, engaging, gritty, and descriptive writing is a delight. Her intricately plotted and character driven storylines hold you enthralled, and the book is so atmospheric that I really feel like I've taken a trip back in time to 14th century London and tagged along in the footsteps of Crispin and Jack as they unravel this mystery.
This is solid storytelling, action and suspense, and offbeat characters, all within a historically detailed framework. What more could you want from a book? And the good news is that Westerson will be spinning off a three book series of YA novels with Crispin's apprentice Jack Tucker as their protagonist. I think these books could be a lot of fun, but I do hope she has much more of Crispin's story to tell yet.
And for fun (with articles on history and mystery), I suggest you check out Jeri's blog: www.Getting-Medieval.com