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A Play of Heresy
A Joliffe Mystery, No 7
Margaret Frazer

Berkley Trade
December 6, 2011 / ISBN: 0425243478
Historical Mystery / Mid 1400s / Coventry, England

Reviewed by Brenda Weeaks

Note: Lollard is Dutch for "mumbler." In this religious uprising it means a Mumbler of prayers.

Joliffe is heading to Coventry for the Corpus Christ plays. He's part of Thomas Basset's company of players. On the way he meets Sebastian, also a spy and Joliffe's superior. Sebastian wants Joliffe to look for Master Robert Kydwa -- a Mercer and possible murder victim. He's concerned the Lollards discovered Kydwa was a spy, as well. (Lollardy is a medieval reform movement against the church and government.)

Sebastian is paranoid about Lollards. In this period of history suspicion can fall on any household with the outcome of losing one's head, as Joliffe soon discovers…

Joliffe arrives and takes on the duties of the play. When Kydwan body is found Joliffe discovers the person accused may be innocent, and the actual killer is coldhearted and cunning. Joliffe successfully plays duo roles as he solves the mystery.

Fraser has a gift with historical dialogue. It's certainly a strong point in this mystery. In A Play of Heresy the medieval era, the local religious tension, and jovial attitude of the players come alive. The mystery is solid and interesting.

I do recommend reading up on the Lollard uprising before you dive into this series. It's a fascinating period in time. The Joliffe Mystery series is a remarkable one; it's a historical mystery series I highly recommend.

Other Titles in this series

A Play of Isaac, No 1
A Play of Dux Moraud, No 2 [review]
A Play of Knaves, No 3 [review]
A Play of Lords, No 4
A Play of Treachery, No 5
A Play of Piety, No 6

Reviewed 2012