The Sempster's Tale: A Dame Frevisse Medieval Mystery

Margaret Frazer, Author
Margaret Frazer, Author . Berkley Prime Crime $24.95 (339p) ISBN 978-0-425-20766-6
Reviewed on: 11/07/2005
Release date: 01/01/2006

In Frazer's engrossing 15th historical (after 2005's The Widow's Tale ), Dame Frevisse leaves her rural convent for London in the summer of 1450 to procure some vestments from the titular sempster ("seamstress," as Frazer explains in an author's note, didn't come into use until the 1600s). But on arrival in London, she learns that her errand is twofold: in addition to the vestments, she must convey a secret stash of gold from the sempster, a widow named Anne, to Frevisse's cousin, Lady Alice. Alice has more to hide than gold. She's having an affair with Daved, a Jewish merchant. Because Jews have been long expelled from England, Daved pretends to be Christian, while continuing to practice Judaism behind closed doors. Frevisse is drawn ever deeper into intrigue when she accompanies Anne to identify a body that some priests believe shows the marks of a Jewish ritual killing. As usual, Frazer offers careful historical detail and characters you'll want to befriend. (Jan.)

The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!