Read A Play of Treachery Online

Authors: Margaret Frazer

A Play of Treachery

Table of Contents
 
 
The Middle Ages Come to Life . . . to Bring Us Murder.
A PLAY OF LORDS
“Will entertain and confound you with its intricately plotted mystery and richly detailed writing . . . Ms. Frazer knows the fifteenth century and it shows . . . You’ll want to rush out and get the previous books in this wonderful series.”

The Romance Readers Connection
 
“[An] amazing wealth of historical detail. While the mystery is compelling, and rooted in a fascinating historical period, it’s the details of everyday life that make the story and characters leap off the page . . . Will appeal to readers who enjoy historical mystery and historical fiction.”

CA Reviews
 
A PLAY OF DUX MORAUD
“Deftly drawn characters acting on a stage of intricate and accurate details of medieval life.”

Affaire de Coeur
 
“A meticulously researched, well written historical mystery that brings to life a bygone era . . . Historical mystery fans will love this series.”

Midwest Book Review
 
“Wonderful . . . As always, the author provides a treasure trove of historical detail . . . [G]ood, solid mystery.”

The Romance Readers Connection
 
A PLAY OF ISAAC
“In the course of the book, we learn a great deal about theatrical customs of the fifteenth century . . . In the hands of a lesser writer, it could seem preachy; for Frazer, it is another element in a rich tapestry.”

Contra Costa (CA) Times
 
“Careful research and a profusion of details, especially those dealing with staging a fifteenth-century miracle play, bring the sights, smells, and sounds of the era directly to the reader’s senses.”

Roundtable Reviews
 
“A terrific historical whodunit that will please amateur sleuth and historical mystery fans.”

Midwest Book Review
 
Praise for the Dame Frevisse Medieval Mysteries
by two-time Edgar
®
Award-nominee Margaret Frazer
“An exceptionally strong series . . . full of the richness of the fifteenth century, handled with the care it deserves.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
THE SEMPSTER’S TALE
“What Frazer, a meticulous researcher, gets absolutely right in
The Sempster’s Tale
are the attitudes of the characters.”

Detroit Free Press
 
THE WIDOW’S TALE
“Action-packed . . . A terrific protagonist.”

Midwest Book Review
 
THE HUNTER’S TALE
“Will please both Frevisse aficionados and historical mystery readers new to the series.”

Booklist
 
THE BASTARD’S TALE
“Anyone who values high historical drama will feel amply rewarded . . . Of note is the poignant and amusing relationship between Joliffe and Dame Frevisse.”

Publishers Weekly
 
THE CLERK’S TALE
“As usual, Frazer vividly re-creates the medieval world through meticulous historical detail [and] remarkable scholarship.”

Publishers Weekly
 
THE SQUIRE’S TALE
“Meticulous detail that speaks of trustworthy scholarship and a sympathetic imagination.”

The New York Times
 
THE REEVE’S TALE
“A brilliantly realized vision of a typical medieval English village.”

Publishers Weekly
(starred review)
 
THE MAIDEN’S TALE
“Great fun for all lovers of history with their mystery.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
THE PRIORESS’ TALE
“Will delight history buffs and mystery fans alike.”

Murder Ink
 
THE MURDERER’S TALE
“The period detail is lavish, and the characters are full-blooded.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
THE BOY’S TALE
“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
 
THE BISHOP’S TALE
“Some truly shocking scenes and psychological twists.”

Mystery Loves Company
 
THE OUTLAW’S TALE
“A tale well told, filled with intrigue and spiced with romance and rogues.”

School Library Journal
 
THE SERVANT’S TALE
“Very authentic . . . The essence of a truly historical story is that the people should feel and believe according to their times. Margaret Frazer has accomplished this extraordinarily well.”
—Anne Perry
 
THE NOVICE’S TALE
“Frazer uses her extensive knowledge of the period to create an unusual plot . . . appealing characters, and crisp writing.”

Los Angeles Times
Berkley Prime Crime titles by Margaret Frazer
Joliffe the Player Mysteries
A PLAY OF ISAAC
A PLAY OF DUX MORAUD
A PLAY OF KNAVES
A PLAY OF LORDS
A PLAY OF TREACHERY
Dame Frevisse Medieval Mysteries
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
THE SQUIRE’S TALE
THE CLERK’S TALE
THE BASTARD’S TALE
THE HUNTER’S TALE
THE WIDOW’S TALE
THE SEMPSTER’S TALE
THE TRAITOR’S TALE
THE APOSTATE’S TALE
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
 
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
 
A PLAY OF TREACHERY
 
A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author
 
PRINTING HISTORY
Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / December 2009
 
Copyright © 2009 by Gail Frazer.
The Edgar® name is a registered service mark of the Mystery Writers of America, Inc.
 
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
 
eISBN: 9781101354988
 
BERKLEY® PRIME CRIME
Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
BERKLEY® PRIME CRIME and the PRIME CRIME logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
 
 

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Chapter 1
T
he Christmas holidays had gone prosperously for the players. Not needed this year by their patron Lord Lovell, they had spent most of the twelve days passing from town to town along the sheltering river valley of the upper Thames, playing on village greens (a chilly business) and in the great halls of wealthy gentry (a better business).
They were a company of six—Basset, master of the company, Ellis, Joliffe, and Gil, who shared the playing work among themselves; Rose, who saw to their clothing and playing garb and feeding them and was Basset’s daughter; and Piers, her half-grown son. There were some bad times behind them, and they all knew better than to look too far ahead because the life of traveling players was nothing if not uncertain, but in this winter of 1435 into 1436, they had good times in hand. Their new play of
Saint George
, with its slaying of the Saracen, the Giant, and the Dragon (not to mention Saint George, too, but he—as always—was brought back to life with a magical pill), and the rescuing of the fair princess at the end, was met with roars of laughter and cheers everywhere they played it, and they had deliberately ended up in Oxford town for the riotous last days of Christmastide, crowning all with a triumphant Twelfth Night performance of the
Saint George
in St. Edmund’s Hall.
“For the great and good of town and gown,” as Joliffe put it. “Or at least for several score of them.”
Basset, as master of the company, declared the next day a day of rest for the players before they took to the road again. “After six days of labor, God rested,” he said. “Twelve days of labor and then one of rest for us seems reasonable, I think.”
“Meaning you think we’re half as holy as God?” Joliffe suggested.
“Ha!” Ellis had said. “Me, maybe. Not you, that’s sure.”
Joliffe had thrown one of their heavy sitting cushions at him in answer. Ellis had thrown it heartily back, and Rose had said with both threat and promise, “If that rips, one of you mends it.”
Ellis had forsaken quarreling with Joliffe in favor of kissing her, while Joliffe quickly made show of checking the pillow to be sure it was whole.

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