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Authors: Margaret Frazer

A Play of Knaves

BOOK: A Play of Knaves
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Table of Contents
The Middle Ages Come to Life . . . to Bring Us Murder.
A Play of Isaac
“The player Joliffe appeared occasionally in Frazer’s delightful series featuring . . . Dame Frevisse. Now he has his own story . . . In the course of the book, we learn a great deal about theatrical customs of the fifteenth century . . . In the hands of a lesser writer, it could seem preachy; for Frazer, it is another element in a rich tapestry.”

Contra Costa (CA) Times
“Careful research and a profusion of details, especially those dealing with staging a fifteenth-century miracle play, bring the sights, smells, and sounds of the era directly to the reader’s senses. There’s also a fine sense of history, all woven together in a medieval tapestry of rich colors. Looking over Ms. Frazer’s impressive list of novels already to her credit, I can see a lot of pleasurable reading ahead. I especially look forward to meeting Joliffe and the players again.”—
Roundtable Reviews
“The mystery, and the events surrounding it, are played out quite naturally through Joliffe’s unquenchable curiosity. For lovers of mystery and lovers of history, this is a find; a mystery backed by solid research. I hope to see much more of this likable group in future volumes.”

The Romance Reader’s Connection
“A terrific historical who-done-it that will please amateur sleuth and historical mystery fans.”

Midwest Book Review
A Play of Dux Moraud
“Deftly-drawn characters acting in a stage of intricate and accurate details of medieval life.”—
Affaire de Coeur
“Puzzling . . . The author is a much-respected authority on medieval times, in addition to a good storyteller.”
—Romantic Times BOOKclub
“A meticulously researched, well written historical mystery that brings to life a bygone era. The workings of society [are] seen through the eyes of the players . . . Historical mystery fans will love this series.”—
Midwest Book Review
“Another wonderful entry in the author’s long series of medieval mysteries . . . As always, the author provides a treasure trove of historical detail surrounding the everyday lives of the characters woven seamlessly into the narrative. In less assured hands, this detail might be intrusive; here, it simply adds to the ambiance . . . Each character is complex, possessing flaws and ambitions . . . [G]ood, solid mystery.”—
The Romance Reader’s Connection
Praise for the Dame Frevisse Medieval Mystery Series By Two-Time Edgar
Award Nominee Margaret Frazer “An exceptionally strong series . . . full of the richness of the fifteenth century, handled with the care it deserves.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune
The Novice’s Tale
“Frazer uses her extensive knowledge of the period to create an unusual plot . . . appealing characters and crisp writing.”—
Los Angeles Times
The Servant’s Tale
“A good mystery . . . excellently drawn . . . very authentic . . . the essence of a truly historical story is that the people should feel and believe according to their times. Margaret Frazer has accomplished this extraordinarily well.”—Anne Perry
The Outlaw’s Tale
“A tale well told, filled with intrigue and spiced with romance and rogues.”—
School Library Journal
The Bishop’s Tale
“Some truly shocking scenes and psychological twists.”

Mystery Loves Company
The Boy’s Tale
“This fast-paced historical mystery comes complete with a surprise ending—one that will hopefully lead to another ‘Tale’ of mystery and intrigue.”—
Affaire de Coeur
The Murderer’s Tale
“The period detail is lavish, and the characters are full-blooded.” —
Minneapolis Star Tribune
The Prioress’ Tale
“Will delight history buffs and mystery fans alike.”

Murder Ink
The Maiden’s Tale
“Great fun for all lovers of history with their mystery.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune
The Reeve’s Tale
“A brilliantly realized vision of a typical medieval English village . . . Suspenseful from start to surprising conclusion . . . another gem.”—
Publishers Weekly
(starred review)
The Squire’s Tale
“Meticulous detail that speaks of trustworthy scholarship and a sympathetic imagination.”—
The New York Times
The Clerk’s Tale
“As usual, Frazer vividly recreates the medieval world through meticulous historical detail [and] remarkable scholarship . . . History aficionados will delight and fans will rejoice that the devout yet human Dame Frevisse is back . . . a dramatic and surprising conclusion.”

Publishers Weekly
The Bastard’s Tale
“Anyone who values high historical drama will feel amply rewarded . . . 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.”—
Publishers Weekly
The Hunter’s Tale
“Will please both Frevisse aficionados and historical mystery readers new to the series.”—
The Widow’s Tale
“Action-packed . . . a terrific protagonist.”

Midwest Book Review
Dame Frevisse Medieval Mysteries by Margaret Frazer
Also by Margaret Frazer
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
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Penguin Group (NZ), Cnr. Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland 1310, New Zealand
(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,
South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author
Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / August 2006
Copyright © 2006 by Gail Frazer.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
eISBN: 9781101378625
Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
The name BERKLEY PRIME CRIME and the BERKLEY PRIME CRIME design are trademarks
belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To the memory of George Wade, for the summers of Shakespeare and Company under the sky.
Chapter 1
The winter of this year of God’s grace 1435 had been cold beyond the ordinary. A false flourish of warm days in March had brought hope, but the cold and rain had come back and held on until almost the end of Lent. Only finally, in the week before Palm Sunday, had something like spring begun to happen, and now as the players, their cart, and their horse trundled at footpace along the road’s gentle lift and fall and curves, there were flowers in the wayside grass and under the hedgerows and everywhere a flirt and busyness of birds seemingly intent on making up for so many lost days of proper springtime.
“There’s a lark,” Piers said, pointing high. “A mark to me!”
“It’s a woodlark,” Joliffe returned. “That doesn’t count.
We’re counting skylarks.”
“We’re counting larks!” Piers protested with all the outrage of his much-put-upon eleven years, and added, because he had a strong belief in conducting his campaigns on as many fronts as possible, “Besides, it
a skylark.”
Joliffe, something like twice Piers’ age and—as often pointed out by their companions—old enough to know better, returned, “Isn’t.”
going to count,” said Basset, the company’s master, Piers’ grandfather, and used to their ways, “is how many knots I’m going to rap on the tops of your heads if you don’t stop it.”
Piers, preferring diversion to defeat, darted sideways, stomped his foot on the wayside grass, and declared from the old proverb, “Five daisies underfoot means spring is here!”
Walking on the other side of their mare, Tisbe, whose part in all of it was to pull the cart and ignore them, Joliffe said, “That was only four.”
“Five!” Piers said, skipping back onto the road. “And you couldn’t see from there anyway.”
“Five knots,” Ellis growled behind the cart where he walked with Rose, Piers’ mother. “On both your heads. With a big stick.”
“I’ll cut the stick,” young Gil said helpfully.
Of the company, he was the only one not on his own feet. Having somewhat turned an ankle coming sideways off an unseen stone two days ago, he was riding on the cart’s seat, his bandaged ankle propped up and idleness chewing at him, so he claimed. They were a company of six—seven if Tisbe the mare was counted, as Joliffe claimed she should be. Time had been it was a larger company and all too lately it had been a smaller one, with times hard and failure likely, until chance and good fortune had brought them to Lord Lovell’s notice and then into his favor. They were Lord Lovell’s players now, with the canvas tilt hooped over their cart painted in the red and yellow of his heraldic colors to proclaim it. Along with that, they could wear his badge and claim his protection should they need it.
BOOK: A Play of Knaves
9.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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