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Read the Book Before You See the Movie, part 2

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

By Vicky T. (VickyJo)


Here are five more books that are going to be made into movies this year.  You should have plenty of time to read the novel before you see the film.  You know the book is usually better!



A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby:  Four very different people (a talk-show host, a single mom, a troubled teen and an aging musician) meet on the same roof top on New Year’s Eve and find that they have one thing in common: each one of them showed up on this roof to jump to his or her death.  Dark and yet humorous, you won’t soon forget this novel.  The movie stars Aaron Paul, Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Rosamund Pike and Sam Neill.  I couldn’t find a U.S. release date for this film.



Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn: This is the story of Libby Day.  As a seven-year-old, Libby was the only survivor of her family’s horrific murder.  25 years later, Libby finds herself short on cash and comes up with a unique plan: she will sell artifacts relating to her family’s murder to The Kill Club, a group of true crime enthusiasts who debate famous murder cases.  Libby learns some shocking truths about the terrible event in her past.  The movie stars Charlize Theron as Libby, and is scheduled for release in September.



Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn: Ms. Flynn has hit the Hollywood jackpot as another one of her novels gets turned into a movie starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.  This film should be released in October.  Gone Girl is the story of Nick Dunne, who becomes a prime suspect when his wife Amy disappears on their fifth wedding anniversary.




This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper: This funny novel gives us the Foxman family: Judd, who has just lost both his wife (she was having an affair) and his job (she was having an affair with his boss.)  Judd is called home when his father dies to sit Shivah with his dysfunctional family.  Seven days with this group?  What could go wrong?  The movie stars Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Rose Byrne and Jane Fonda.  It will be released in September.



Wild: From lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed: This memoir follows Cheryl as she tries to reclaim her life after the death of her mother and going through a divorce by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.  She is inexperienced, but determined.  Is this a good plan, or just another one of her bad life decisions?  The movie stars Reese Witherspoon, Charles Baker and Laura Dern.  No release date has been set yet.






Read the Book Before You See the Movie, part 1

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

By Vicky T. (VickyJo)


There are (at least) 16 books that are going to be made into movies in 2014, and since it’s only January, you have plenty of time to read the book before you see the film.  For the next few days, I’ll share the titles and give you a brief synopsis of each plot.  You may have read some of these, but it never hurts to brush up on the book first.


Labor Day, by Joyce Maynard: Labor Day weekend for 13-year-old Henry Wheeler will change his life forever when his mother, emotionally fragile at best, takes in a stranger with a dark secret, and law enforcement on his trail.  The film stars Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, and opens January 31st.



The Monuments Men, by Robert Edsel and Bret Witter: The true story of an American platoon during WWII which is assigned the incredible task of going into Nazi Germany to rescue art masterpieces and return them to their rightful owners.  The film will star George Clooney, Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett and will be released on February 7th.



Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead: This is actually a series, with the first novel titled Vampire Academy.  I’m not sure how much the movie will cover, but the first novel introduces us to Rose, half human and half vampire, and Lissa, a vampire princess; both girls attend St. Vladimir’s Academy and must deal with the usual teen angst and problems, plus a few issues unique to vampires.  The movie will be released February 14th and stars Zoey Deutch as Rose and Lucy Fry as Lissa.


Winter’s Tale, by Mark Helprin:  Peter Lake, an orphan and a master mechanic, attempts to rob a mansion in New York’s Upper West Side.  He believes the house to be empty, but to his surprise, it is occupied by Beverly Penn, the daughter of the owner, and a woman who is terminally ill.  The novel is over 700 pages long, so it will be interesting to see it distilled into a few hours of film.  It stars Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay and opens on February 14th.



Divergent, by Veronica Roth: This first book in Roth’s trilogy introduces us to Beatrice Prior, who lives in a futuristic Chicago, where society is divided into five factions.  All sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will belong…and as you can imagine, nothing ever goes smoothly.  If you liked Hunger Games, you should check out Divergent.  The movie stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Kate Winslet.  It will hit theaters on March 21st.


The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green: A moving, intense story of two teens, both with cancer, who fall in love with one another and search for answers to the big questions: How will I be remembered?  Does my life, and will my death, have any meaning?  Shailene Woodley also starts in this film, along with Ansel Elgort and Willem Dafoe.  The film will be released in June.







Food Week – Chuck’s Lasagna Saga

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

 By Gail P. (TinkerPirate)


There once was a man named Chuck

Who would cut your hair for a buck

Though he was good

At cooking most food

With lasagna he had no luck



Grumpy, my dear husband, and I used to have the same barber. His name was Chuck. With a pair of scissors, he was a magician. Get him in the kitchen and – well, I’m getting ahead of myself.

A number of years ago, while having dinner with his father-in-law, Chuck mentioned that he made great lasagna. Well, his father-in-law replied that this was nice, but that he made BETTER lasagna. Chuck gently reminded his father-in-law that he was Italian and that everybody knows that Italians make the BEST lasagna. The father-in-law, being Sicilian, took exception at this. Well, after a number of “does too” – “does nots”, an oven mitt was thrown AND the Annual Lasagna Contest was born.

Great idea! But, who would judge the contest?

Chuck’s wife couldn’t. Her loyalties would be torn between the man who gave her life and the man who gives her love. So, they began to solicit neighbors and friends – but as they described the situation, those very friends and neighbors told Chuck and his father-in-law that they considered themselves to also be great lasagna makers and wanted to enter the fray. Great – now they had a bezillion lasagna makers. What started out as a simple dinner statement turned into the mother of all lasagna contests.

How did Chuck do? Well, the first year, Chuck made his regular lasagna and lost. The second year, he devised a new recipe: he cooked the noodles the day before and marinated them overnight in a “secret sauce”. The resulting lasagna was mooshy because the marinated noodles disintegrated. As you can guess…Chuck did not win…again.

For year three, Chuck developed a different strategy. Knowing that the best part of lasagna was the sauce and cheese, he would eliminate the noodles! He developed another “secret sauce”, threw in bread crumbs, and sought out the perfect cheese. Chuck figured the bread crumbs would soak up the juice from the wonderful sauce and combine with the perfect cheese to form a magnificently textured and flavorful lasagna. WRONG! What he got was a lasagna pan of goop…tasty goop…but goop none the less.

After loss three, Chuck gracefully “retired” from lasagna competition. He decided to just host the parties. And, his father-in-law…he NEVER did enter a single contest!

Now, that I have you all set for the really great lasagna recipe…here it is. How do I know? Well, first of all it’s NOT Chuck’s – it’s MINE and it won the very last Lasagna Contest!


Tricolor Lasagna

Serves 12


16 ounces lasagna noodles

2 pounds Italian sausage

6 cups spaghetti sauce

1 can black olives – chopped

1 cup pesto sauce

32 ounces ricotta cheese

24 ounces mozzarella cheese – shredded

Pour spaghetti sauce into a heavy bottomed sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer until sauce reduces and is slightly thickened. Brown sausage, drain, and add to thickened spaghetti sauce. Add black olives. Continue to simmer for 30-60 minutes. Blend pesto sauce with half of the ricotta cheese. Blend the remaining ricotta with half of the mozzarella cheese. Prepare the noodles according to the directions on the package.

Spread a small amount of spaghetti sauce/sausage mixture in the bottom of a deep lasagna pan. Cover with lasagna noodles. Spread a layer of spaghetti sauce/sausage mixture on top of noodles (keep 1 cup of sauce mixture in reserve). Sprinkle with 2/3 of remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover with lasagna noodles. Spread ricotta/mozzarella mixture on top of noodles (keep 1 cup of mixture in reserve). Cover with lasagna noodles. Spread layer of pesto/ricotta mixture (keep 1 cup of mixture in reserve). Cover with lasagna noodles. Spread reserved mixtures on top of noodles so it resembles the Italian flag. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.

Place in a preheated 375 degree oven and bake until sauce is bubbly and cheese on top is melted and starting to brown (about 50 minutes). Remove from oven and rest for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.



Pesto Sauce

3 cups fresh basil leaves – washed and dried

8 cloves of garlic – peeled

3 teaspoons pine nuts

1/2 cup parmesan cheese – finely grated

1/3 cup olive oil

Throw basil, garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese into a food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped. Add olive oil. Pulse until solids are well chopped, but mixture is not liquefied.



Spaghetti sauce

A confession – I used jarred sauce…a combination of 3 cheeses and roasted red pepper…but use whatever you like. Or, you could look for recipes in the following books available on PBS:



Lasagna: The Art of Layered Cooking
by  Dwayne Ridgaway
The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces
by Diane Seed
Monday-to-Friday Pasta (Monday-to-Friday Series)
by  Michele Urvater
The Book of Pasta
by Lesley MacKley and Jon Stewart
Five-Minute Pasta Sauces
by  Michael Oliver







Member Musings – Songs and Books, Books and Songs

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

by Cyn C. (Cyn-Sama)


I have a love/hate relationship with song lyrics being used in novels.  If I like the band, and like the music, it can take me right back to a very specific point of time in my life.  For example, The Seed of Lost Souls, by Poppy Z. Brite, the book references Bauhaus and The Cure, two very influential bands to my impressionable 16 year old mind, so when I read this book, I am brought right back to being 16, and discovering these bands, and it’s a very happy thing.

If the author mentions a band I don’t care for, or I don’t know, it can kind of throw me out of the illusion the book has spun me into.  In my mind, the characters always listen to music that I like, so if they mention something I don’t like, it jars me.  It’s not something I’m too fond of.

I was thinking about this the other day, and then started thinking about songs that were based on novels, which are a completely different kettle of fish.

One of the first songs I realized was based on a book was Moon over Bourbon Street, by Sting.  It’s sung from the point of view of Louis, from Interview With The Vampire, by Anne Rice.

There’s a moon over Bourbon Street tonight
I see faces as they pass beneath the pale lamplight
I’ve no choice but to follow that call
The bright lights, the people, and the moon and all
I pray every day to be strong
For I know what I do must be wrong
Oh you’ll never see my shade or hear the sound of my feet
While there’s a moon over Bourbon Street

It’s just gorgeous, and sums up the character completely.

Then, I got to thinking about The Cure, and the novel, Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer.  At least two Cure songs were inspired by this novel, the song Charlotte Sometimes, and The Empty World.

Part of the plot of the book Charlotte Sometimes, revolves around two girls. Charlotte, and Clare.  Clare is from the year 1918, in the midst of World War I, and Charlotte and Clare keep switching time periods.

This is reflected in The Cure song, Charlotte Sometimes

on that bleak track
(see the sun is gone again)
the tears were pouring down her face
she was crying and crying for a girl
who died so many years before…”

And, reflected in The Cure song, The Empty World

She talked about the armies
That marched inside her head
And how they made her dreams go bad
But oh how happy she was
How proud she was
To be fighting in the war
In the empty world

Some of the lines of the lyrics are taken directly from the book.  It’s one of those silly little things that makes me happy, and gets filed in my useless knowledge folder.  If people don’t know the books, but know the songs, I get to look all smart and impressive.  And, if they know the books and the songs, they will geek out with me.

There are also songs that I just relate very strongly to certain books.  Concrete Blonde’s Walking In London, puts me in mind of Anne Rice’s Tale of The Body Thief, with Lestat chasing David all over the world to reclaim his body.

“And I’ve been running all this time
And I’m running out of places to go
And I am oh so sick and tired of every face that I know
Everything I do, everything I say
Everything in my head, every night, every day
I’ve been east, I’ve been west, I’ve been north, I’ve been south
I feel your arms, I hear your voice, I feel your hands, I kiss your mouth

Now, I know that song wasn’t written with Tale of the Body Thief in mind, but it just puts me in the frame of mind to want to read the book.



To celebrate the connection between songs and novels, we’re going to do a giveaway!  One member, chosen at random from the comments about this blog will win two credits to be used at the sister site,  Use them to try out some of the artists I just mentioned, or find some new favorites to inspire you!


Concrete Blonde – Walking in London
The Cure – Greatest Hits
Bauhaus – Singles Volume 1
Sting – Dream of the Blue Turtles


What books do you love that were based on songs?  Or, what songs make you think of certain books?



Its Pi Day! Have a slice of math!

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012


By Cheryl G. (Poncer)


Math was never my strong suit. All through school I needed extra help. I never knew the new math from the old math. It was all Latin to me. Teachers would always tell us we would need to use math in our lives and it would come in handy.

It was always Alga-wha? to me. I can honestly say I have never once in my adult life asked myself, “Wonder what x equals?”. I have asked, “Where the xxx are my keys?!” and “How the xxx did I end up here?!” but never have I voluntarily looked for a an equal to x.

So I see by the calendar today is Pi Day.  According to Wikipedia, π is approximately equal to 3.14. It goes on to say that π (sometimes written pi) is a mathematical constant that is the ratio of any Euclidean circle’s circumference to its diameter. Which makes no sense to me at all.  Just proves my point: Math = Latin.

Trying to keep an open mind, I think we should just celebrate PIE. So for all you pi and pie lovers out there.


Happy Pi/Pie Day!



Life of Pi by Yann Martel


The Joy of Pi by David Blatner


Geometry for Dummies by Mark Ryan


American Pie by Teresa Kennedy


All the above books are currently available to order, except the Geometry for Dummies. Go figure!

Holiday Traditions – Happy Kwanzaa!

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

by Geri (geejay)

Kwanzaa is a Celebration of Family, Community and Culture. It is celebrated from December 26th through January 1st.

The first-fruits celebrations (Kwanzaa) are recorded in African history as far back as ancient Egypt and Nubia and appear in ancient and modern times in other classical African civilizations such as Ashantiland and Yorubaland. These celebrations are also found in ancient and modern times among societies as large as empires (the Zulu or kingdoms (Swaziland) or smaller societies and groups like the Matabele, Thonga and Lovedu, all of southeastern Africa. Kwanzaa builds on the five fundamental activities of Continental African “first fruit” celebrations: ingathering; reverence; commemoration; recommitment; and celebration. Kwanzaa, then, is:

* a time of ingathering of the people to reaffirm the bonds between them;
* a time of special reverence for the creator and creation in thanks and respect for the blessings, bountifulness and beauty of creation;
* a time for commemoration of the past in pursuit of its lessons and in honor of its models of human excellence, our ancestors;
* a time of recommitment to our highest cultural ideals in our ongoing effort to always bring forth the best of African cultural thought and practice; and
* a time for celebration of the Good, the good of life and of existence itself, the good of family, community and culture, the good of the awesome and the ordinary, in a word the good of the divine, natural and social.

This is a holiday that’s celebrated throughout the world African community. Kwanzaa brings a cultural message which speaks of what it means to be African in the fullest sense.

The theme for Kwanzaa this year is the Seven Principles: Sharing and Sustaining the World.

The are seven Symbols of Kwanzaa:

Mazao (The Crops) symbolizing the harvest celebration





Mkeka (The Mat) symbolizing the foundation on which tradition and history is built.





Kinara (the Candle Holder) symbolizing the continental Africans, the roots.


Muhindi (The Corn) symbolizing the children and the future.



Mishumaa Saba (The Seven Candles) the matrix and minimum set of values for African people


Kikombe cha Umoja (The Unity Cup) symbolizing the practice of unity.





Zawadi (the Gifts) symbolizing the labor and love of parents and the commitments made and kept by children.

Gifts are given mainly to children. They must always include a book and a heritage symbol. The book to emphasize the African value and tradition of learning stressed since ancient Egypt. The heritage symbol is to reaffirm and reinforce the African commitment to tradition and history.

What is a Zawadi to We by Vandella Brown
Colors and decorations for Kwanzaa are black, red and green. They should include African baskets, cloth patterns, art objects and harvest symbols as well as other objects.


It is important to note Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday, not a religious one, thus available to and practiced by Africans of all religious faiths who come together based on the rich, ancient and varied common ground of their Africanness.


Kwanzaa: From Holiday to Every Day by Maitefa Angaza


The Children’s Book of Kwanzaa: A Guide to Celebrating the Holiday
by Dolores Johnson


Practicing Kwanzaa Year Round
by Gwynelle Dismukes


Excerpt from Troubled Bones

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Jerelyn (I-F-Letty)

I would like to say thank-you to Jeri Westerson, who I am very excited to say has given her fellow PBS members a sneak peek of fourth book in the Crispin Guest series; Troubled Bones.  We would like to wish Jeri the best of luck with her new release, on Oct 11th.


TROUBLED BONES: A Medieval Noir  by Jeri Westerson

The retelling of the unfinished Canterbury Tales as it might have happened…

Disgraced knight Crispin Guest gets himself into some serious trouble in London and as a result is forced to accept an assignment far out of town. The archbishop of Canterbury has specifically requested Crispin to investigate a threat against the bones of saint and martyr Thomas a Becket, which are housed in a shrine in Canterbury Cathedral. The archbishop has received letters threatening the safety of the artifacts, and he wants Crispin to protect them and uncover whoever is after them. But when he arrives at Canterbury, Crispin is accosted by an old acquaintance from court—one Geoffrey Chaucer—who has arrived with a group of pilgrims. Trapped in Canterbury, looking for a murderer, a hidden heretic, and a solution to the riddle that will allow him to go back home, Crispin Guest finds his considerable wit and intellect taxed to its very limit.




Canterbury, 1385


“Why’d you have to take me along, Master Crispin?” complained Jack Tucker, gripping the horse’s mane as his body jerked with the rouncey’s gait. The boy looked up sorrowfully through a mesh of ginger fringe. “Shouldn’t someone keep watch of our lodgings back in London? Shouldn’t I have stayed behind?”

“Master Kemp can keep good watch of his own tinker shop, I should think,” said Crispin. “And if you ever wish to follow in my footsteps, you must accompany me when I have a paid assignment. As you know, such assignments are few.”

“I’d rather follow in your footsteps at that, Master, than ride this beast. If God had wanted Man to have four feet He’d have created Adam with them.”

Crispin’s left hand lazily held the reins. “Jack, you’re fighting him. Roll with the gait. Become as one with him.”

“Tell it to the horse.”

Chuckling, Crispin raised his eyes to the road. The walls of Canterbury drew closer and rose above the distant copses. It wouldn’t be long until they could finally get some food and a warm bed. Though he appreciated being on a horse once again, the constant drizzle had made their journey from London two days ago less than comfortable.

“Why should the Archbishop want you to do this thing, sir?” Jack asked.

Crispin gripped the reins. Tension flickered up the muscles in his arm. “The letter delivered to the sheriffs was frustratingly vague. All I know is that it seems to be a matter of Saint Thomas à Becket’s bones.”

Jack shook his head and whistled. “Saint Thomas the Martyr. It’s like a pilgrimage. God blind me! I’ve never been on a pilgrimage before. And Thomas the Martyr at that. I should very much like to see his bones. They say that Saint Thomas defied a king. A little like you did, Master,” he added sheepishly.

Crispin made a sound in his throat but said nothing. He couldn’t help but feel a kinship for the martyr. Thomas à Becket had been his own man, to be sure, saint or no.

“But we did leave London rather hastily,” Jack went on. “Why, sir, if you hate dealing with relics so much, were you in such a hurry to do this task?”

“I will be paid well for it. I’ve already received two shillings. Four days wages isn’t bad for work not yet done.”

“True. But I’ve never seen you hurry for no one, let alone a cleric.”

Crispin heaved a sigh. He could ignore the boy, tell him to be still and to mind his own business, but after only one short year of knowing the ginger-haired lad, he knew it was pointless. “The sheriffs gave me a choice,” he said at last. “Follow the bidding of the Archbishop or go to gaol.”

“Gaol, sir?”

Crispin adjusted on his saddle. “It seems I might have gotten into a scuffle at the Boar’s Tusk.”

“Master Crispin!”

“A man was bedeviling Mistress Langton! Should I have stood by while he insulted the tavernkeeper?”

“You were drunk.”

Crispin shot him a dark glance. “Careful, Tucker.”

“Well…were you?”

He pulled his hood down, shivering with a cold wind. “I might have been. The crux of the matter is, the man was a courtier. And I…er…might have…struck him.”

“God blind me. Then it’s a wonder they didn’t just hang you.”


They fell silent as they reached the city’s gates and then wended their way through narrow lanes, some little wider than the horses’ flanks. The late afternoon light filtered down through the valleys of Canterbury’s shops and houses. Their second and third tiers overhung the streets, cutting short the weak light angling through the spring mist.

They found an inn at the end of Mercy Lane, just a bowshot from Canterbury Cathedral, and Crispin left it to Jack to stable both horses and secure a room.

Standing alone at the base of the steps to the great arch of the cathedral’s west door, Crispin brushed the mud from his coat. There was little he could do about the state of his stockings with their mud and holes, but surely the Archbishop was aware of his situation. After all, he’d asked specifically for Crispin himself.

He climbed the steps and entered the vestibule. Cold stone surrounded him while the stained glass windows cast rainbows on the floor. The nave opened before him, flanked on either side by a colonnade of impossibly tall stone pillars upholding ribbed vaults. A labyrinth of scaffolding clung to the naves’ pillars with spidery fingers of poles and ropes. The church’s reconstruction had been underway for years yet didn’t seem any closer to completion since Crispin had last visited nearly a decade ago. While masons worked, showering the nave with stone dust, artisans continued painting the stone runners, spandrels, and corbels in elaborate colors and stripes. The nave was alive in color and gold leaf. Every corner, every inch of every carved bit of stone smelled of new paint and varnish.

He walked across the stone floor, his boots echoing. When he turned at the quire, he made a nod toward the northwest transept archway into Saint Benet’s chapel, a miniature church within the large cathedral.

The place where Becket was murdered.

He moved on past the quire on his right and then ascended another set of steps—the pilgrim’s steps—to the Chapel of Saint Thomas, its own little parish of occupied tombs and tombs yet to be occupied. Always room for one more. He couldn’t help but turn his glance to one tomb in particular. It was overhung with a canopy of carved wood covered in gold leaf. He paused and walked forward to study it.

A latten knight lay with hands raised in prayer over his chest. A crown encircled his helm. He did not lie with eyes closed but stared upward at some unseen paradise…or possibly a battle, for to the silent knight, Paradise and Battle might very well have been one and the same.

For a long time, Crispin stood and stared at the tomb and at the polished figure of Prince Edward of Woodstock. He crossed himself, studied the face of the man he had known well, and finally turned from the sepulcher.

A drowsy shuffle of monks echoed in the church.

Crispin turned and stood for a moment, absorbing the sight of Becket’s shrine in the center of the chapel. The chapel’s stone pillars created a circle about Crispin and shone golden with the afternoon sun streaming in from the many windows. Raised up on stone steps, the shrine was taller than a man. A stone plinth supported the wooden base, itself resplendent with carved arcades and fine decoration, gold-leafed, painted. As fine as any throne. Set above it all was a finely wrought wooden canopy hiding the gold and jewel-encrusted casket in which Becket’s remains lay. The canopy was a proud structure of carvings, gold leaf, and bells. Ropes were fastened from the canopy to the center boss on the ceiling. By pulleys and wheels, the canopy could be lifted to reveal the casket’s magnificence—for the pilgrims who paid their fee.

Crispin frowned. His eyes searched the shadows. The shrine looked the same as it had probably looked for two centuries.

He turned to go when the sound of voices and scuffing feet stopped him. Pilgrims. Then monks appeared from the shadows and positioned themselves before the ropes and pulleys, ready to reveal Becket’s casket. His heart fluttered. How many times had he seen this tomb himself? But he was just as affected as the first time when he was a boy. The Archbishop could wait. He wanted a look at Becket’s tomb. Just another pilgrim in the crowd.

Steps approached and the voices hushed. The pilgrims, here to see Becket’s shrine, moved along the north ambulatory, gawking at the images of Saint Thomas’s miracles depicted in the stained-glass windows. They were a varied flock, as Crispin expected. Travelers came from all over the kingdom to see Becket’s bones. Some looked to be clerics from other parishes, a priest in rich robes and two demure nuns in dark habits. A man of wealth was flanked by what appeared to be two tradesmen. A round-bodied woman in a fine gown and cloak stood in the center of the crowd, a look of concentration on her face as she stared at the tomb as if willing it to give up its secrets, while two men, one thin and the other stout, skulked behind the other pilgrims, whispering to each other.

The two monks who stood by the ropes stared suspiciously at Crispin before they set to work cranking the canopy away from the casket. Slowly, with the sound of the rope squealing over the pulley, and with bells tinkling, the canopy lifted higher and the first motes of light struck the casket’s gold. The sun revealed it, brushing along its box of carved pillars.

Crispin stood off to the side, waiting in the shadows for the pilgrims to pass. The visitors murmured and were slowly ushered forward one at a time by two monks.

Out of the silence, a sharp voice rang out, incongruous in the silent presence of tombs and the ancient stone chair of Saint Austin standing in a shaft of sunlight. “Well I’ll be damned. Cris Guest!”

It couldn’t be. That unmistakable voice. A sinking feeling seized his gut and Crispin slowly turned.

God’s blood. Geoffrey Chaucer.