The Clerk's Tale

A Dame Frevisse Mystery

Book 11
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St. Mary’s nunnery is a place of prayer and healing for women—so it is surprising to see a man sprawled out in the cloister garden. Dead. Less surprising, to Dame Frevisse, was the identity of the victim. Master Montfort was not particularly liked by anyone in the town of Goring—even his own wife and clerk. As royal escheator, he was trying to settle a heated inheritance dispute between a wealthy woman and her supposed nephew.
 
Now Dame Frevisse must step in and untangle the fortunes and felonies in this complicated case of political and familial rivalries. But her real challenge is to put aside her feelings and serve justice for the murder of an unjust man.
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About the author

Margaret Frazer was nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Original Paperback for both The Servant’s Tale and The Prioress’ Tale. The Sister Frevisse series includes The Novice’s Tale, The Servant’s Tale, The Outlaw’s Tale, The Bishop’s Tale, The Boy’s Tale, The Murderer’s Tale, The Prioress’ Tale, The Maiden’s Tale, The Reeve’s Tale, and The Squire’s Tale. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Dec 3, 2002
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9781440673931
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Crime
Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Historical
Fiction / Thrillers / Suspense
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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 A PLAGUE OF MURDERS

The village of Prior Byfield is blighted with famine, devastated by plague, and cursed with ill-fortune. Simon Perryn, the poor reeve of the village, is driven to distraction by the petty rivalries and hopeless troubles of his neighbors. His adulterous sister and her dolt of a husband have entangled their affairs with Gilbey Dunn, the richest man of the village, and Elena, the beautiful and seductive woman that he calls his wife. With wealth on the line and lives at the stake, old quarrels and ancient angers are boiling over into the once-quiet streets of the village. That’s when things get even worse for Simon: A horrid scandal curses him with a pair of nuns, sent from the nearby nunnery of St. Frideswide’s to make sure all is kept right in the village.

Dame Frevisse, however, suspects that the scandal which has drawn her and the innocent Sister Thomasine from the safety of the priory is but the tip of a terrible intrigue which threatens both nunnery and village alike: The good, kind, and honest Master Naylor stands accused of a crime which threatens to strip him and his entire family of their freedom. Who could stand to profit from his loss? Is it the same silent killer who stalks the village youth? Or are they all being played like fools?

Yet even if Frevisse’s keen wit can lay bare the ugliness in the hearts of men, she fears that no amount of prayer will serve to cleanse her own soul of that sickly hate. Can even God pardon one who has turned from a holy path?

 

PRAISE FOR THE REEVE’S TALE

“Everything about it bespeaks quality and care… Frazer draws us into a medieval village in England with a story of lust, greed and murder.” – St. Paul Pioneer Press

“Exquisitely written, the novel offers a brilliantly realized vision of a typical medieval English village, peopled with full-blooded men and women who experience the human range of joys and sorrows. Suspenseful from start to surprising conclusion, this is another gem from an author who’s twice been nominated for an Edgar.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“This tale is a trip back in time, a time when your personal wants had to be satisfied with what could be found in your immediate surroundings. You will appreciate the intense need for each village and villager to be self-sufficient. You experience the terror caused when children fall ill. The Reeve’s Tale is a fascinating one.” – Martha’s Vineyard Times

“Frazer [turns] the screw of the mystery… The looming threats guarantee suspense… Greed and self-interest lurk beneath marital agreements knotted to land contracts, reminding God’s virgins just who feeds them.” – Kirkus Review

 

PRAISE FOR THE DAME FREVISSE MEDIEVAL MYSTERY SERIES

“Within the graceful prose rhythms that have garnered her two Edgar nominations, Frazer’s 10th tale of 15th-century nun Dame Frevisse transports the reader to a medieval England made vivid and a world of emotions as familiar then as now.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“Frazer’s quiet yet intense medieval mysteries are so vividly and gracefully written you just float back in time…” – The Poisoned Pen

“Those who meet Frevisse here for the first time will want to get to know more about more.” – Detroit Free Press

“Ms. Frazer provides a real treat for lovers of all things medieval.” – Romantic Times

“Frazer is a master because she combines her love and knowledge of history with the true skills of a mystery writer.” – Aunt Agatha’s

A Romantic Times Top Pick.

Twice nominated for the Minnesota Book Award.
Twice nominated for the Edgar Award.

"MAY GOD STRIKE ME DOWN WITHIN THE HOUR!"

To the guests at the mourning feast for Thomas Chaucer, the last words of Sir Clement Sharpe had been enough to damn him in the eyes of God. Detested by all who knew him, his final blasphemy had turned even God's anger against him and his death would be a lesson well-remembered. None among them would ever forget the sight of God striking down a sinning man, and each would keep in their heart the need to honor God's charity and love in all the hours of their lives.

But the crafty Dame Frevisse and cunning Bishop Beaufort suspect that there may be an all-too-mortal hand at work in Sir Clement's death. If their suspicions can be proved, then the only lesson to be learned is the bleakest secret of the blackest heart.

PRAISE FOR THE BISHOP'S TALE

"The setting for another tale of mystery, intrigue, jealousy and ambition, well drawn, well paced, and a pleasure to read." - Historical Novels Review

"Rich period detail, canny characterization, and a lively plot should endear Sister Frevisse and her tales to anyone who enjoys historical mysteries." - Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Truly this is a winter's tale, wintry in setting and in themes. The most powerful emotions are chilled and subdued: Cool authority, icy determination, cold despair - these are stronger than the widow's stormy, self-pitying grief, the petulant anger of a pair of young lovers, the heat of a proud man's anger, and the fiery rash which clutches and kills him." - Jeanne M. Jacobson, Drood Review of Mystery

PRAISE FOR THE SISTER FREVISSE MEDIEVAL MYSTERY SERIES

"Frazer is writing one of the most consistently excellent historical series in print today." - Murder Ink

"Frazer successfully captures the essence of 15th century England - the sights, smells, and sounds fill the pages, drawing us in as we become immersed in the language, manners, and customs of a far off time and place." - Rendezvous

"Dame Frevisse, the pious and perspective nun gives focus to this sober series... [Frazer] shows a meticulous detail that speaks of trustworthy scholarship and a sympathetic imagination." - New York Times Book Review

"Once you begin to read this series, you will want to follow your new friends to the end of their personal story." - Cross Point Book Reviews
"Exquisitely written... A superbly researched medieval mystery series!" - Publisher's Weekly
"Everything about it bespeaks quality and care... Frazer draws us into a medieval village in England with a story of lust, greed, and murder." - St. Paul Pioneer Press

A Romantic Times Top Pick.

Twice nominated for the Minnesota Book Award.
Twice nominated for the Edgar Award.
SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN...

"Sanctuary! In God's name you must give it!"

A dark lady rides back into the life of Dame Frevisse, bearing with her two small boys haunted by the touch of death and scandal. Nine men lie dead on the road behind them, victims of the grim fate which relentlessly pursues them. Some seek to turn them away, but when they request sanctuary Frevisse is bound by her holy oaths to grant it.

But in welcoming them within the walls of St. Frideswide, has Dame Frevisse allowed death to stalk the nunnery's halls? When she begins to untangle the mystery of these strange guests, the truth she discovers may be enough to doom them all. Forced to keep secrets better left untold even from the nuns of her own order, Frevisse is caught in a crucible between faith and duty.

To learn the boy's name is to be drawn into a conspiracy of shame. To hear the boy's tale is to face death.

PRAISE FOR THE BOY'S TALE

"Frazer's writing is both erudite and vivid, and she has the ability to bring characters to life within a strong, clear story." - The Drood Review of Mystery 

"Seeing events through the eyes of small children not understanding royal politics was an especially pleasing part of experiencing this story." - Books 'n Bytes

"Frazer starts to glow. Each action is a natural progression. Each character has wants, needs, and desires. The mystery is engaging. It brought tears to my eyes." - Epinions.com

"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

PRAISE FOR THE SISTER FREVISSE MEDIEVAL MYSTERY SERIES

"This series is full of the richness of the fifteenth century, handled with the care it deserves. Margaret Frazer's tales are charmingly and intelligently contrived." - Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Accurate period detail, adroit characterization, and lively dialogue add to the pleasure." - Publishers Weekly

"Sister Frevisse is a stalwart, appealing sleuth." - Mostly Murder

"Truly shocking scenes and psychological twists." - Mystery Loves Company

"Frazer uses her extensive knowledge of the period to create an unusual plot ... appealing characters and crisp writing." - Los Angeles Times

Twice nominated for the Minnesota Book Award.
Twice nominated for the Edgar Award.
THROUGH A MURDERER'S EYES...

Caught under the tyrannical thumb of her new prioress, Dame Frevisse finds welcome relief in leaving St. Frideswide nunnery on pilgrimage. But the road brings with it unwelcome company: The wealthy Lionel Knyvet has been possessed by a foul demon. Seeking relief from the horrific terrors visited upon his body each fortnight, Lionel has dragged his entire household on an endless pilgrimage across the breadth and length of England. Frevisse wants nothing more than the peaceful bliss of travel, but must instead endure the incessant chattering of a mob.

Lionel's possession, however, may only mask a darker sin. When the pilgrims make their way to the manor house at Minster Lovell, Frevisse begins to unwind the bitter poisons of jealousy and betrayal eating at the hearts of both Lionel and his brother Giles. Against her will, the innocent nun is drawn into the vilest depths of the human soul and there she unlocks the mysteries of a blackened heart. But even when the truth comes out, can justice be done? The pure of heart will find no peace when murder and death come knocking at the manor's door...

PRAISE FOR THE MURDERER'S TALE

"Frazer has created the most despicable villain since Iago." - Patricia W. Julius, Detective as Historian

"Historical readers will be charmed with the story; feminists will be delighted with the strong female characters. Ellis Peters has a worthy successor in Margaret Frazer." - Meritorious Mysteries

"Expertly captures the flavor of the period with vivid descriptions and creates dimensional characters true to the times." - Rendezvous

"A diabolically smooth and logical frame-up... Frazer springs substantial surprises. A moving portrait of how afflictions torment body and mind and a meditation on selfless friendship. It's a treat, with memorable characters and a thoughtful, bittersweet ending." - S.M. Tyson, The Armchair Detective

PRAISE FOR THE SISTER FREVISSE MYSTERIES

"Within the graceful prose rhythms that have garnered her two Edgar nominations, Frazer's tale of 15th-century nun Dame Frevisse transports the reader to a medieval England made vivid and a world of emotions as familiar then as now." - Publisher's Weekly

"Mystery... Suspense... Frazer executes with audacity and ingenuity." - Kirkus Reviews
"Margaret Frazer is on a rip. Each book is better and stronger than the last, and it's almost a privilege to be on the journey as the skillful Frazer takes her heroine, Dame Frevisse, all over Britain solving crimes." - Aunt Agatha's

"There is action aplenty and intrigue in abundance." - Historical Novels Review

A Romantic Times Top Pick.
Twice nominated for the Minnesota Book Award.
Twice nominated for the Edgar Award.
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