Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Play of Heresy

by Margaret Frazer.

Actor and spy Joliffe is on his way to Coventry to rejoin his company of traveling players for the annual cycle of Corpus Christi plays when Sebastian, an associate in the Bishop of Winchester's service, tells him that while he's there, he should look into the disappearance of one of Sebastian's regular informers. Sebastian suspects Lollards--religious reformers who believed that the Church was hopelessly corrupt, some of whom had gone so far as armed revolt against the Church and the King only seven years before. Joliffe isn't so ready to see heretics under every rock, but at least that possibility gives him a starting point for some questions, when he isn't busy with rehearsals for the play he's in this year.

I had seen this book on a mystery display in the library where I work a few days ago, which both reminded me that I hadn't read it yet and inspired me to check the author's website for any upcoming books. To my dismay, what I learned was that Gail Lynn Frazer, who started the Dame Frevisse series of medieval mysteries in collaboration with Mary Monica Pulver under the name of Margaret Frazer, passed away at the beginning of February. I am now kind of bummed that there will be no more Joliffe novels, to show us how he gets from this point to the kind of professional spy that we know he becomes by the time of his last appearance in a Frevisse novel, and there will be no more Frevisse novels, to show how she copes with being named the Prioress of her convent of St. Frideswide's.

As far as this novel goes, I thought it was a slight improvement on the last one, where the villain was uncovered offstage. I was interested in all the stuff about the Corpus Christi cycle as well. I just wish I could still look forward to more of them.

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