Publication Date: December 6, 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 290pp
(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound
Margaret Frazer on the WEB: website, facebook
Books in the series: A Play of Isaac (2004), A Play of Dux Moraud (2005), A Play of Knaves (2006), A Play of Lords (2007), A Play of Treachery (2009), A Play of Piety (2010), A Play of Heresy (2011)
CoverArt: Click on the image to see a larger, clearer picture of all of the covers in this series!
In the pages of Margaret Frazer's national bestselling Dame Frevisse novels, the player Joliffe assumes many roles on stage, to the delight of those he entertains. Now, in the company of a troupe of traveling performers, he finds himself triple cast in the roles of player, sleuth and spy...
In the early summer of 1438, Joliffe and his fellow players have arrived in Coventry for the theatrical and religious festival of Corpus Christi. Employed by several of the city's rich and powerful merchant guilds, they plan to present two of the many plays extravagantly depicting all of God's story with pomp and pageantry.
But even as his fellows prepare to perform the Nativity, Joliffe may be called on to play a wise man off the stage as well. When the merchant Master Kydwa goes missing and is presumed dead, another agent of the cunning Bishop Beaufort calls on Joliffe's skills as a spy to uncover the mysteries of Coventry's elite. As suspicions spread, possibly implicating his own companions, Joliffe is drawn toward the devilish machinations of a secret sect of heretics bent on destroying the Church. The players may be about to present the Harrowing of Hell, but will Joliffe be able to unravel a confession of corruption before Coventry's dark enigmas unleash a medieval massacre of the innocents?
Margaret Frazer takes readers back to the fifteenth century in her latest book, A Play of Heresy, the seventh book in the Joliffe the Player series. This is an English historical cozy that will have fans of both genres enthralled. Joliffe first appeared in Frazer's Dame Frevisse series and has gone on to become quite the crime solver himself. Joliffe, a stage performer makes a wonderful sleuth and spy taking Coventry by storm in this latest installment to the series.
This is my first experience with Joliffe the Player and Margaret Frazer, but it won't be my last. I have a tendency to like cozies that a little outside the norm. I like all cozies, but these kinds peak my interest. It could my background as a history major or just a need for something out of the box to sate my adventurous side, but this book fit the bill for me. All of the fifteen century detail, down to the dress and customs was interesting to me and added to the overall enjoyment of the book. Historical cozies require a lot of research and it's obvious that Frazer has done her homework with this book. I liked it a lot.
Being a performer the lead character Joliffe has an advantage over some cozy heroes and heroines, he has a ready source of disguises and roles that he can play in order find out the kinds of information he needs to solve the crime. I liked the fact that Frazer stays true to fifteenth century speech patterns and codes of conduct with Joliffe. It makes him a very authentic and believable character. He was a lot of fun to read about, as he takes up the challenge of finding the merchant Master Kydwa, who is missing and presumed dead. His search for the person responsible gets him into some sticky situations and it was interesting to see how he got himself out of them unscathed. A great character!
The mystery aspect of the novel was well written and very tightly plotted. Everything had to fall into place just right. The clues were well drawn and hard to figure out, a hallmark of a good mystery writer. I didn't nail this one down until very close to the reveal. Frazer throws in many twists and turns and her work is full of historical referencing and side stories that will interest the mystery reader with a penchant for history. This is definitely a series I plan to revisit and read more from. I like Frazer's smooth style and old world atmosphere. I recommend this one to all of my cozy readers. If you haven't read a historical cozy yet, give this one a try, you won't be disappointed!
A Play of Heresy is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Margaret Frazer is a full-time writer. She has twice been a finalist for the Edgar(r) in the paperback original category. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of A Play of Heresy by Margaret Frazer.
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