The Squire's Tale: A Dame Frevisse Medieval Mystery

Margaret Frazer, Author Berkley Publishing Group $21.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-425-17678-8
Written with the graceful prose rhythms that have garnered her two Edgar nominations, Frazer's 10th tale of 15th-century nun Dame Frevisse (following The Reeve's Tale) transports the reader to a medieval England made vivid and a world of emotions as familiar then as now. Despite Frevisse's devotion to the religious routine of prayer and silence (not absolute) and her infrequent contact with those outside the nunnery of St. Frideswide, she remains an astute observer and interpreter of what she does see. Duty sends her into the troubled household of Squire Robert as companion to Dame Claire, who is asked to minister to Robert's pregnant wife, Blaunche. A dispute over a manor claimed by Lady Blaunche before she wed Robert threatens to erupt into armed conflict. Robert, against Blaunche's wish, hopes to negotiate a settlement with Sir Lewis Allesley by marrying his ward, Katherine, to Allesley's son, Drew. Blaunche wants not only to keep the disputed manor but to see her son (and Robert's stepson), Benedict, wed Katherine. Frevisse and Claire are thrown into the middle of a squall of desires, jealousies and intrigue that begins before they reach Robert's manor and won't end before murder is done. Frevisse once again must use her skills to solve a crime. Finely plotted and subtly shaded, Frazer's tale has the detailed substance that brings an era to life, while her characters' psychological makeup is as cunningly wrought as the historical background. (Dec. 12) Forecast: This is a veteran series that continues to grow in qualityDand popularity. If booksellers focus on this title and its medieval setting (and push it to readers of history as well as to mystery buffs), the book's Christmas-time pub date could make it Frazer's bestselling to date.
Reviewed on: 12/04/2000
Release date: 12/01/2000
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