Sam Spade and Richard III Walk into a Pub…

Sam Spade and Richard III Walk into a Pub…

posted in: Essays | 18

Last week (in case you missed it), archaeologists confirmed that a skeleton found under a Leicester parking lot belongs to King Richard III, killed in battle in 1485.

In an egregious case of victors writing history, both William Shakespeare and the not-so-saintly Thomas More have portrayed Richard as an evil, hunchbacked usurper and child killer.

Skeletal analysis now proves that Richard had scoliosis, but no hunch on his back. Facial reconstruction shows a young, handsome man.

And we can thank Richard for some famous legal reforms — including the bail system and, ironically, the presumption of innocence before guilt.

Contradictions like these keep me intrigued with England’s tumultuous middle ages. I’m a closet reader of medieval mysteries, so I was ecstatic to discover the Crispin Guest medieval noir series written by Jeri Westerson.

What, exactly, is medieval noir? It’s a subgenre Jeri invented that plays on the “hardboiled” novels of authors like Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett (whose world-weary, tough-talking detective is named Sam Spade).

Blood Lance by Jeri Westerson
Blood Lance by Jeri Westerson

Unlike that other medieval detective, Brother Cadfael, Crispin Guest is a deeply flawed secular hero who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. (He actually lives during the reign of King Richard II, who had his own problems.)

Today I interview Jeri at Write It Sideways about teleporting detective noir to the mean streets of medieval London. It took Jeri fourteen years to get published, so she’s an inspiring late bloomer, too!

In other news, February 12th is Charles Darwin’s birthday

Darwin took almost 25 years to write On The Origin of Species. It was as much a labor of love as of science, and one, in the end, he wanted his wife to support more than anyone else. You can read about “The Love Song of Charles Robert Darwin” here.

Other Later Bloomers with birthdays in February

Please check out the interview with Jeri Westerson here.

18 Responses

  1. Anne R. Allen
    | Reply

    I’m working on a new Camilla mystery, set in the English Midlands, that features the ghost of Richard III. So amazing that they’ve found his body just as I’m starting this book. Serendipity. I’m glad to hear you’re a fan of his too. 🙂 And I’m definitely checking out Jeri’s medieval mysteries.

    Also looking forward to your intriguing changes here!

    • Debra Eve
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      Anne, I hope you’re going to be nice to poor Richard — he’s suffered enough. And yes, I’m a fan. I geeked out and even joined the Richard III Society in the 1990s. I let my membership drop, but I think they’re the ones who bankrolled this dig. I think you’ll love Jeri’s stuff, and I’m excited to hear Camilla’s going back to England!

  2. Jennette Marie Powell
    | Reply

    The new site design looks great! Noir and medieval sounds like an interesting combo

    • Debra Eve
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      Thanks, Jennette. I know you’re a design professional, so I appreciate it. I love doing design work but don’t have the technical chops, but at least I can practice on my own site. Noir and medieval is a great combo — so much imagination there.

  3. K.B. Owen
    | Reply

    Hi, Debra! I got to meet Jeri at Malice Domestic, and she’s a terrific gal. Love her books, too! I was very honored to have her guest post on my blog, when the book before this one came out. Going now to check out the interview.

    • Debra Eve
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      Kathy, I think I might have found Jeri through your blog! I remember commenting on that post, but don’t remember if I heard of her before that. Either way, I think you must have provided some impetus to read her books, which I loved, so I owe you a big thanks!

  4. florence fois
    | Reply

    Debra … I am a lover of noir and although I haven’t read all of Brother Cadfael, I so loved the BBC series I watched on PBS. I’ll jump over to the interview. Excited about the changes you are making 🙂

    And BTW … this is the first time in weeks I’ve gotten your posts in my email. Wondered if you have stopped or I was no longer a subscriber. Glad to see that neither was the case !!

    • Debra Eve
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      Thanks, Florence! I’m just going through a realignment and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the blog. I’ve decided to just let it go organically and see what happens…

  5. Susie Lindau (@SusieLindau)
    | Reply

    I had heard about that last week and was reminded that “the victors write history.”
    Just think of how many other falsehoods are written!
    Sounds like a great series!

    • Debra Eve
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      I don’t think ignorance is bliss, but sometimes I do wonder, Susie! Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Lee Jenna Tyler
    | Reply

    Loved this and how bizarre! It’s great that archeology susses out all of the myths that we swallow whole. And I’m heading over to read your review on Write It Sideways. Looking forward to the new look though I loved the other.

    • Debra Eve
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      Thanks, Lee. Though I worked in archaeology and sometimes it just creates more myths, depending on the kind of statistics employed 🙂

  7. David Stevens
    | Reply

    Hi Debra,
    Good to hear from you again. Keep up the nice work.
    Be good to yourself
    David

    • Debra Eve
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      Thanks so much, David! I’m a great admirer of your work too.

  8. Chris Edgar
    | Reply

    I love the anecdote about Darwin — it definitely humanizes him in my eyes to know about the relationship between his marriage and the book that he’s known for. So many fascinating facts on this site.

    • Debra Eve
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      Thanks, Chris! I am a bit of a geek that way. Emma and Charles Darwin were a true love story, made even more poignant by her devout Christianity and complete belief in him.

  9. khaula mazhar
    | Reply

    Haven’t been able to visit for some time, and I was missing these posts! Now going to read that interview 🙂

    • Debra Eve
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      Thanks, Khaula. Great to see you again!

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