James Patterson
& Andrew Gross,
The Jester
(Time Warner, 2003)

James Patterson and Andrew Gross collaborate in The Jester, a tale of adventure that begins in France in 1096. The village of Veille du Pere is in the clutches of an evil duke.

These are the days of the ill-fated First Crusade. Religious fervor inflames the populace, so it is not long before the lord, knights and squires go off to the Holy Land. Off go the poor with their pitchforks and mallets. Even Hugh DeLuc, the village innkeeper, joins a ragtag group that passes through Veille du Pere. It turns out to be a bad idea for everyone.

After two years, the survivors straggle homeward. Hugh's wife is in the duke's prison and the duke is as arrogant as ever. Hugh gets some good advice, which leads him to appear at the castle gates in the guise of a court jester. Dressed in the tights, peaked cap and patchwork skirt of his new craft, Hugh is not recognized as the innkeeper. The duke and his court are intrigued by the new jester and his acrobatic skills. He is fresh, funny and annoyingly curious about the castle.

There are secrets galore in this whimsical tale. What does Hugh have that is worth a king's ransom? He wishes he could discover the answer before he gets hanged for having it.

Readers will enjoy the twists and turns of this story. I would like to recommend the unabridged audiobook version read by Neil Dickson, a professional actor on the London stage. He does a satchel full of wonderful accents to give the characters their distinctive voices. He is, quite simply, the best reader I have ever heard.

- Rambles
written by Jean Marchand
published 5 July 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.