The Servant's Tale (A Dame Frevisse Mystery)
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THE PLAY'S THE THING, TO CATCH THE CONSCIENCE OF A KILLER...
The Christmas season brings strange guests to the medieval nunnery of St. Frideswide's when a troupe of penniless players comes knocking at the gate. They bear with them the badly mangled body of a villager, swearing they found the drunken fool lying in a ditch. But Meg, the victim's wife and a scullery maid of the cloister, thinks there are far fouler deeds afoot.
As the players rehearse for the nativity, ancient scandals lick at their heels and dark desperation haunts Meg's steps as she finds cruel feudal laws threatening to strip away the lands that would support both her and her sons in the wake of her husband's death.
Dame Frevisse must thrust herself between these violent feuds, awakening dreams of her youth that she had believed long buried. Her very faith may be threatened, but Frevisse knows she must unravel a path to true salvation... before false raptures of lust bring ruination upon them all.
NOMINATED FOR THE 1994 EDGAR AWARD
PRAISE FOR THE SERVANT'S TALE
"Period detail, adroit characterizations, and lively dialogue add to the pleasure of this labyrinthine tale." - Publishers Weekly
"This mystery is so rich with place and time that they become characters in the story. Dame Frevisse is a stalwart, appealing sleuth and the cold, dark priory and the squalor of Medieval England are fascinating backdrops." - New Orleans Times-Picayune
"The writing is seamless... The atmosphere of the book is cold and blustery, danger afield. A well-steeped sense of history prevails... They make this novel more than a mystery, but a wonderful historical dark tapestry. We are transported back to the 14th century. One of the 10 best mystery novels of 1993." - Minneapolis Star Tribune
"I look forward to more murders at St. Frideswide." - The Mystery Review
"Frazer never falters in this magnificent historical... This is a perfect mystery: It's flawless." - Drood Review of Mystery
PRAISE FOR THE SISTER FREVISSEE MEDIEVAL MYSTERY SERIES
"Exciting writing, colorful characters, and historical accuracy." - St. Paul Pioneer Press
"Tale[s] of mystery, intrigue, jealousy and ambition, well drawn, well paced, and a pleasure to read." - Historical Novels Review
"The series gets better and better as it goes along." - Grounds for Mystery
"Margaret Frazer has quietly claimed her place as one of the preeminent writers of historical crime fiction, delivering the whole package - a good mystery, wonderful characters, and a fascinating period of history. [...] Her novels are a dream to read." - Aunt Agatha's Newsletter
"Frazer's quiet yet intense medieval mysteries are so vividly and gracefully written you just float back in time..." - The Poisoned Pen
"A smooth and absorbing saga of conspiracy and treachery in 15th-century England..." - Publishers Weekly
A Romantic Times Top Pick.
Twice nominated for the Minnesota Book Award.
Twice nominated for the Edgar Award.
than St. Frideswide’s can provide. Sugared almonds, perhaps, or three oranges to eat and share with Dame Claire and Domina Edith? The King has been much busied with Parliament and his council at Westminster, and is gone to Bury St. Edmunds for the holy days. There has been much to-doing now that Bedford is come from France to settle matters between Gloucester and Beaufort yet again, and I am happily out of it for the present. I would quote Ecclesiastes at you, but you already know my choice of
chunk from the loaf to stuff into the boy’s mouth. Then he held out a cap and jingled it under Piers’s nose. “We’re set for our journey to Oxford, too. We can have Tisbe shod.” Piers removed the bread wad from his mouth. “Then can we leave now? I’m nearly well. Well enough. I could have gone with you to see Ellis start that fight in the village.” “I never start fights,” Ellis said. He sat down on his heels beside the boy and pushed the hair back off his forehead, making a playful gesture of
to be people hurt. Frevisse lifted the latch and went out. Confused for a moment in the suddenness of torchlight, she paused. There were perhaps a dozen men struggling in a knot outside the old guesthall door. Some were carrying torches whose spasmed light jerked and flared and hid almost as much as it showed as the men wrestled and struck at something in their midst. Only one of them she recognized surely—Roger Naylor, the steward. At the edge of the melee, he was trying to drag men back,
cleared beyond any doubt before Montfort arrived; he was ever willing to take the easiest path to a solution, and the players were a very obvious choice. It did not signify, for example, that Ellis had said he’d never left the priory last night. She would need to find out that no one saw him leave, or, better, that someone, not Bassett or Rose, saw him asleep in the guesthouse at the right time. And Bassett and Rose would have to be proven innocent as well. And Joliffe. She hoped Father Henry
voice held the assurance of someone who had often said it would happen. “What he’s surely made is a ruin of himself.” Dame Claire was cutting away the strips of bloody cloth with a slim knife. Now, seeing more of his hurts, she said, “Mercy, his ribs! Someone had best fetch his wife.” “I’ll go,” Annie Lauder said. “I know their cottage.” With a bustle of importance and elbows, she pushed her way out from among the cluster of people and was gone. “Who’s building up my fire?” Dame Claire