I don’t know what book I was reading when Ann and I decided to do a short sale on our house, but I know I started Jeri Westerson’s Blood Lance soon after. I was told that Jeri was a good reader, and I was thinking about having her out to read at the college where I teach.
It was a difficult time. I had a good job, and I had bought the absolute cheapest house in my part of Los Angeles, but I hadn’t gotten the cost of living pay increases that had been standard, and the repairs on the house had been tens of thousands of dollars more than I’d been told they would be. After years of trying to keep up, it made sense finally to do a short sale on my house, a process that’s just one step up on a foreclosure. I’d give up my house and ruin what had been a near perfect credit rating. It destroyed my sense of self and my ideas about ownership and security.
Plus, it just kind of sucked.
That’s when I started to read Jeri Westerson’s medieval noir series, which follows Crispin Guest, a fallen knight turned tracker -- what we would think of a private detective.
I love period pieces. I love mystery novels. I loved this series. And I’d finished all the Cadfael novels years earlier. I found myself preferring Guest to Cadfael. Why? He was exactly what I needed when I needed it.
That he had lost his property and his home was lost to me at the time, but that had to have something to do with it. But despite his setbacks, he was brave and good. The writing was clean and direct and the good guy kept doing good things.
The Crispin Guest novels are all powerful and fun. I lost myself in their stories which moved quickly and Guest is always on the edge or dying or losing, but he pulls himself out in the last minutes. They are absolutely brilliant and all consuming.
And that’s what I needed then, to be consumed by something other than the fact that I was losing what I’d worked so hard to keep. And Guest helped to remind me that property and things aren’t the most important parts of my life. If, like him, I could keep my important friendships and my honor, if I could help other people out when I could, that was all right. That was enough.
They were written well, and they hit me just exactly when I needed them to hit me.
That was more than enough.