Book Discussion Guide: The Demon’s Parchment

The Third Crispin Guest Medieval Noir


Once a knight and nobleman at the court of the English king, Crispin Guest was convicted of treason and stripped of his land, his title and his honor. Effectively banished to the lower social reaches of the crowded neighborhoods of London, all he has left with which to earn a living is his intelligence and keen eye for detail.  Now, using those wits and gifts, he has become known as the “Tracker”—a man who can find anything, can solve any puzzle, and will do so for a price.

With the winter, however, have come tough times and paying clients are few. Even so, when approached by a mysterious figure, Crispin is wary of taking him on. The client is one Jacob of Provencal—a Jewish physician currently attending the Queen at court, despite the fact that all Jews were expelled from England nearly a century before. Jacob wants Crispin to find stolen parchments that might be behind the recent gruesome murders of young boys, parchments that someone might have used to bring forth a demon which now stalks the streets and alleys of London. With the help of his apprentice, Jack Tucker, an orphaned street urchin with a thief’s touch, Guest must unravel several mysteries at once if he’s to stop the murders in time to protect those nearest and dearest to him.


Cast of Characters

Crispin Guest, the Tracker*
Jack Tucker, his servant*
Gilbert and Eleanor Langton, owners of the Boar’s Tusk*
Ned, their servant*
Nicholas Exton and John Froshe, sheriffs of London
William, the sheriffs’ bailiff*
Simon Wynchecombe, former sheriff of London
Jacob of Provencal, Jewish physician*
Julian, his son*
John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster
Richard II, the king
Martin Kemp, Crispin’s landlord*
Matilda Kemp, the landlord’s daughter*
John Rykener, Crispin’s friend
Matthew Middleton, goldsmith*
Giles, Lord de Risley*
Radulfus, Giles’ cousin*
Conrelius van der Broohes, Giles’ astrologer*
Nicholas de Litlyngton, Abbot of Westminster Abbey
Brother Eric* and Brother Michael*, monks of Westminster Abbey
Bill Wodecock, the king’s steward*
The Man in the Carriage*
Stephen, his servant*
Bertihildus, a potter*

*denotes fictional people


1. How do you feel about Crispin’s attitude about Jews? Is it surprising?

2. Was there a Golem?

3. Were you surprised at Crispin’s reaction to “the kiss”?

4. John Rykener will return as a reoccuring character. How do you feel about him?

5. When did you suspect Julian was more than he appeared to be?

6. How do you feel about the man in the carriage? Why did he grab the child?

7.  Why did Crispin trust Giles?

8. What do we think we know about Jack’s past?

9. Who did King Richard demand that Lancaster not bring with him to Sheen for Christmas? Why?

10. How does Crispin and Jack’s partnership affect the outcome?

11. In three books so far, Crispin’s choice of women have been dubious at best. Why does he make those choices?