This latest entry in the Dame Frevisse mystery series does not disappoint. Once again Margaret Frazer plots an intriguing mystery for her crime-solving nun to investigate. Dame Frevisse and her superior, Domina Elisabeth arrive at St. Mary's priory in Berkshire shortly after a royal official has been found dead in the infirmary's garden. Master Montfort was not popular and several people have motives. Soon Dame Frevisse, who knew and disliked Montfort when he was a crowner, finds herself drawn into finding the identity of the killer.
In typical Frazer fashion, interesting secondary characters abound, complicating the investigation, while the clerk of the title lends Dame Frevisse a helping hand. Many aspects of the medieval period come to life in this book with details that fascinate rather than overwhelm, while the mystery takes twists and turns along the way.
Dame Frevisse remains the quiet centre of the story, using her deductive powers to unravel the many tangled strands of the mystery. Somehow Frazer manages to add new dimensions to Frevisse's character with each outing, not an easy feat for a series writer.
If you love medieval mysteries, this one should not disappoint.
Teresa Basinski Eckford
This review first appeared in a 2001 issue of The Historical Novels Review