Thirteenth in Margaret Frazer's Dame Frevisse series, The Hunter's Tale is the best yet. As expected, the mystery is well-plotted with the requisite red herring or two, the setting brims with historical details and the story moves along at a gentle yet insistent pace. But it's also a brilliant study of human nature.
The victim is Sir Ralph Woderove, who chases after his dog into the woods and turns up dead within the hour. The terms of his will set the stage for further foul deeds. As Dame Frevisse learns, he was a vicious man who loved his dogs more than his family, which includes his second wife Anneys, his sons Tom and Hugh, daughters Elyn, Lucy and Ursula and grandson Miles. His only friend was Elyn's husband, their neighbour Sir William Trensal. Little wonder Frevisse finds herself with so many suspects and a plethora of motives.
Sir Ralph's physical and verbal abuse echo throughout the story, revealed through each of the main characters as it becomes clear they are protecting one of their own. In this manner, Ms Frazer reveals her genius, as she explores each member of the family and what drives them to act as they do. Highly recommended.
© Teresa Basinski Eckford
This review first appeared in the August 2004 issue of The Historical Novels Review