In 1446 Dame Frevisse finds herself traveling with her prioress to a distant nunnery to visit an ailing sister. Upon their arrival, they learn that things are in turmoil because Morys Montfort, royal escheator, has been murdered. In his duties as escheator, Montfort was to determine who the rightful heirs to various estates were. It is thought that his position may have been the cause of his death.

Montfort was settling a dispute involving Cecily Hyde and Stephen Lengley. Hydes sister has died, and Cecily claims to be the heir to all properties. However, the unknown Lengley claims to be an unacknowledged son with rights to the inheritance and if this were true, Cecily would lose half the estate. Further complicating matters is that each claimant is being backed by a most powerful man.

Frevisse is no stranger to greed or the schemes that men will think up to obtain power. It is her vast knowledge and her patience that solves the murder and determines the rightful heir.

THE CLERKS TALE is a lovingly told story, rich with fascinating description. Ms. Frazer provides a real treat for lovers of all things medieval. (Jan., 320 pp., $22.95)

Reviewed by: 
Toby Bromberg