Another Review at MyShelf.Com

The Widow's Tale

By Margaret Frazer

    After some back-to-basics sleuthing Dame Frevisse once again gets embroiled in high politics (just as in The Bastard's Tale, also reviewed on this site) in the fourteenth entry of this award-winning series. When a widow arrives at the convent with strict instructions as to her penance for immodesty instantly the nuns are agog to her crimes. But Cristiana Helyington is merely grieving for her much-loved husband Edward, and at the non-existent mercy of her scheming relatives. When events take a new turn Frevisse finds herself staying at the house of Cristiana's influential friends, and deep in the murky waters of government. Her cousin Alice is the wife of the powerful Marquis of Suffolk and her arrival puts everybody on the spot - for she has come to collect the one thing that Cristiana thinks will make her safe. But this won't stop ruthless people from committing murder.

     This is a series that always has something new to say, and is never afraid to give the reader something different from a basic whodunit. In these books the crime plays second fiddle to the all-important business of historical verisimilitude, but to say this makes it sound as though there are two separate entities vying for attention within one cover and this is not so. The crime, the politics, the daily life all form part of a well realized historical whole, and there is even room for a surprise or two. Looking back at my review of The Bastard's Tale I praised its political intrigue and asked for more of this sort of thing, and now I have it. Don't think though that this is going to be a cozy novel - it is a darker toned read than many of Frazer's other books and shows the ugly side of 15th century life. As ever the minutiae of daily life balance out the devious deeds of the great, and this is another strong entries in this winning series.

The Book

Berkley Prime Crime (Penguin Group)
January 2005
Historical [1449 Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire, UK]
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2005
© 2005