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The Clerk's Tale: A Dame Frevisse Medieval Mystery    by Margaret Frazer order for
Clerk's Tale
by Margaret Frazer
Order:  USA  Can
Prime Crime, 2002 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* * *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

Given that this is the twelfth tale in Frazer's mediaeval mystery series featuring Dame Frevisse, I am astonished that I did not discover these books earlier. The clever and determined Frevisse finds herself embroiled in yet another killing when she accompanies her prioress Domina Elisabeth to visit the latter's dying cousin.

Upon arrival, they learn that a man has recently been murdered in the central garden of the nunnery. The victim is Master Morys Montfort, much disliked by all, including his wife and his own son Master Christopher, who is conducting the inquest into Montfort's death. To complicate matters, Montfort's position gave him the power to decide certain property disputes, tangled in themselves and further complicated by political struggles being conducted by higher-ranking nobles. Master Christopher, who approaches problems far more sensibly than his murdered father, asks Dame Frevisse for help. He is well aware of her powers of observation and deduction. As she snoops with discretion, Dame Frevisse learns more than she really wants to about the people involved in an ugly inheritance dispute, one that was probably linked to Montfort's death.

Frazer spins an entertaining tale, bringing to life well-limned characters and a long forgotten period of history. Whether the 15th century or the 21st, she makes clear that human nature, and human passions remain the same. Dame Frevisse's unveiling is made with compassion, and I was pleased to see the kindness shown to the humble little clerk in Frazer's dénouement.

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