Book Discussion Guide: Spiteful Bones

London, 1398

Restoring his recently inherited family home from crumbling estate to grand manor, the last thing young lawyer Nigellus Cobmartin and his companion, John Rykener, needs is the addition of grim discoveries. But when workmen uncover a skeleton bound, tied and hidden in the wall—and holding the precious family relic that was stolen nearly twenty years ago—Nigellus immediately turns to Crispin Guest, Tracker of London, for help.

Whose bones are they? And why was the valuable relic buried with the thief? Crispin and his apprentice, Jack Tucker, are drawn into a crucible of dark secrets, family scandal and old grudges as they attempt to find the truth behind a pile of old bones.


Crispin Guest, Tracker of London*
Jack Tucker, his apprentice*
Isabel Tucker, his wife*
Crispin Tucker, Helen Tucker, Gilbert Tucker, Genevieve Tucker, their children*
Clarence Walcote, a mercer*
Philippa Walcote, his wife*
Christopher Walcote, their son*
William Askham, Sheriff of London
John Woodcock, Sheriff of London
Nigellus Cobmartin, a lawyer*
John Rykener, embroideress and whore
Susannah, a maid*
Philip Able, Cobmartin’s steward*
Robert, Cobmartin’s cook*
Roger, a scullion*
Wilfrid Roke, former varlet*
Margaret Roke, his wife*
William Roke, his son*
Ardath Cleve, a maid*
Martin, a stableman*
Michael Loscroft, a footman*
Rafe Hemm, a gardener*
Jenna, a maid*
Susannah, a maid*
Thomas Courtney, a mason*
John Harrow, a mason*
Walter Perchay, a plasterer*
John de la Moote, Abbot of St Albans Abbey, Watford
James Cradel, the Walcote steward*

*Indicates fictional people


1. How do you feel about John Rykener and Nigellus Cobmartin’s relationship?

2. Discuss the difficulties.

3. What are the obstructions put in Crispin’s path in investigating this crime?

4. Do you think it is possible to solve a 20 year old crime in fourteenth century England?

5. Dishonor, paternity, revenge. These are all motivating factors in almost any age, but particularly in Crispin’s time period. Discuss.

6. The relic is not important to this plot. Or is it?

7. What do you think of Clarence’s generosity to Crispin?