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The Traitorís Tale
Dame Frevisse Mystery, #16

by Margaret Frazer

     You could almost hear the roll of drums and watch the storm clouds gather in The Sempsterís Tale (also reviewed on this site). Something big was about to happen next, and here it is. Dame Frevisse is summoned once again from her cloistered life, and is soon on her way to her cousin Alice, Duchess of Suffolk. Her intriguing husband has been murdered, and now she fears for her life and that of her son, hopefully to be the next Duke. Ostensibly, Frevisse is with her cousin to bury her husband, but there is more going on and soon she too is embroiled in it. The late Dukeís men keep disappearing, but soon to appear is Simon Joliffe, in the pay of the exiled Duke of York. The player cum spy and the nun must join forces to find a mysterious list which supposedly names all the traitors who have conspired with the French and lost Normandy. In the wrong hands, this list - if it exists - would be deadly.

There is a lot of story in here, and it certainly shows that Ms. Frazer is as adept at the big things in mid 15th century life as she is at the minutiae. Here is a tale painted on a much broader canvas than usual, and, in a way, a distillation of all that has gone before. There is a lot of reading in it, and plenty of real history presented to the reader in the most enjoyable way. For this is classic history book stuff: Henry VI and the Hundred Yearsí War, Jack Cadeís rebellion, and the start of the Wars of the Roses. Treason, plotting, and a traitorís death - or a knife in the back - are never very far away. Every book in this wonderful series has something different to enjoy, and now we are shown a glimpse of how the momentous events of 1450 affected the highest in the land, as well as those who served them. If you thought school history was boring, then you need to read this and discover just how well Ms. Frazer portrays the curse of living in "interesting times", making it all seem as fresh and vibrant as a news bulletin. Possibly the best in the series to date, and that is saying a lot. Miss it at your peril...

Reviews of other titles in this series

The Servant's Tale, 2
The Outlaw's Tale, 3
The Bishop's Tale, 4
The Prioress’s Tale, 7
The Bastard’s Tale, 12
The Hunter's Tale, 13
The Sempster's Tale, 15
The Traitor’s Tale, 16

The Book

Berkley Prime Crime
January 2007
ISBN13: 9780425213704
Historical Crime - 1450 Various UK Locations
More at US || UK

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2007
© 2006