In 1434, Joliffe and his band of players have found a patron in Lord Lovell. Without him, they would have to live on only what other people could pay them.

Lovell asks the players go to Sir Edmund at Deneby Manor, purportedly for his daughter's betrothal. But Joliffe is also going there to spy: The daughter's previous suitor died mysteriously, and Lovell wants to make sure nothing bad happens this time. Joliffe uncovers the Denebys' secrets, but not before some heartbreaking events.

Readers will learn much about medieval traveling theater troupes as they unravel a puzzling mystery. The main characters of the troupe--including Joliffe, leader of the players; Basset, his daughter; and his young grandson--have a hard life, truly living from hand to mouth, traveling the countryside in all weathers, performing for their bread. The various towns and manors they travel to are natural settings for Joliffe to prove his detecting talents.

The author is a much-respected authority on medieval times, in addition to a good storyteller. (Aug., 275 pp., $6.99)
Reviewed by: 
Lorraine Gelly