THE BASTARD'S TALE: A Dame Frevisse Mystery

Margaret Frazer, Author . Berkley Prime Crime $22.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-425-18649-7

While the slow unfolding of the plot and the shortage of crime solving may put off some readers, anyone who values high historical drama will feel amply rewarded by Edgar-nominee Frazer's latest Dame Frevisse mystery (The Clerk's Tale, etc.). In 1447 the powerful men of England gather in the town of Bury St. Edmond's for a session of Parliament. However, a few nobles have decided that this particular session will not see business as usual. The bishop of Winchester summons Dame Frevisse from her nunnery to go to Bury St. Edmonds and report to him all that she sees and hears. With the aid of an old friend, the player Joliffe, and new friends Bishop Pecock of St. Asaph's and Arteys, the duke of Gloucester's illegitimate son, she uncovers a political plot of treason and murder. Arteys stands out as one of several historical figures in the story who become fully human. Despite his tenuous position as a bastard, he genuinely loves and admires his father. Also of note is the poignant and amusing relationship between Joliffe and Dame Frevisse. History fans will relish every minute they spend with the characters in this powerfully created medieval world. Prose that at times verges on the poetic is another plus, as is the inviting jacket art depicting a river flowing through a town of thatched-roof houses. (Jan. 7)

Reviewed on: 12/23/2002
Release date: 01/01/2003
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