Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Play of Knaves - Margaret Frazer

A Play of Knaves
Margaret Frazer
Berkley Prime Crime

Mystery – Historical - Middle Ages

In the spring of 1435, Joliffe and the small company of players are traveling. Several months ago, Lord Lovell extended his protection to the group, and now they bear his standard and can claim his protection, should they need it. They are known now as Lord Lovell’s players. They’re traveling south, to the village of Ashewell, due to a request from Lady Lovell. Lady Lovell is friendly with the abbess of the nearby abbey. She tells the players that the abbess is worried about potential trouble in the village. As players, they’ll have access to both the wealthy houses (by putting on plays for them) and to the villagers in general. All she wants them to do is observe, and report any trouble to the village bailiff.

When the players arrive, they find that matters are a good deal more dicey than even Lady Lovell knew. There are three wealthy houses in the area, the Ashewells, the Medecotes, and the Gosyns. The three are quite bristly towards each other, and it looks like problems could erupt from a multitude of sources. When trouble does erupt, it appears in the form of a dead body. This is no longer merely trouble; it’s murder. Using their skills as players, and the skills honed in previous murder investigations, Joliffe determines to get to the bottom of things.

This is the third book in the Joliffe series, and it does not disappoint. The relationships between Joliffe and the rest of the players are always evolving, and very realistic for a group of people who spend all their time together. The author seamlessly weaves in period details that give the reader a true sense of the perils, beauty, and reality of life at this time. The mystery, as always, is expertly done, and revolves around true concerns of the time. Any reader interested in mysteries and history will find this one well worth the time. I always look forward to more from this author.

Rating: 9
August 2006
ISBN# 0-425-21111-8 (paperback)


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