THE SEMPSTER'S TALE
In June of 1450, Dame Frevisse and several companions travel by river from St. Frideswide's nunnery to London. Frevisse's cousin, Lady Alice, a wealthy patron of the priory, has commissioned vestments to be made in memory of her dead husband. On the journey Lady Alice gives Frevisse a sealed envelope, begging her to deal with a secret matter while in London.
Frevisse reluctantly agrees to help. Trapped in the household of a merchant during the rebel Jack Cade's uprising against the government, Frevisse is drawn into a conspiracy of silence. A houseguest there is a Jewish merchant posing as a Christian so that he can trade in England, which had no Jews living there at the time, while having an affair with a Christian woman. Then a monk who has threatened to report the household to the Inquisition is murdered. Forging an unlikely pact with the Jewish merchant, Frevisse attempts to solve two murders.
As always, Frazer weaves historical details into the life of the fictitious nun in her 15th novel of the series. Whether good or evil, her characters are vibrant and compelling. While we might like to believe that the prejudices of that era have passed into history, we are reminded that we are not so very different after all. (Jan., 352 pp., $24.95)