The Bastard’s Tale

Written by Margaret Frazer
Review by Suzanne Crane

This twelfth installment of the Dame Frevisse historical mystery series is a testament to the popularity and excellence of Margaret Frazer’s writing. With the author’s usual meticulous research, The Bastard’s Tale pits the intellectual and wily Benedictine nun, Dame Frevisse, against the murderous ambitions of powerful nobles during the reign of England’s King Henry VI. Sent by the Bishop Beaufort to attend her noble cousin Alice as a screen for spying on Alice’s husband, the Marquis of Suffolk, Dame Frevisse becomes entangled in Suffolk’s designs for discrediting the heir apparent, Humphrey Duke of Gloucester. Dame Frevisse risks all to save Gloucester’s innocent bastard son, Arteys, from unwarranted death when he too falls prey to Suffolk’s deadly ambitions.

The novel is rich in sound historical detail, and all of the characters are vibrantly alive and human. Amidst the seemingly overwhelming horror of destruction that political intrigue and personal greed can cause, Ms. Frazer easily interweaves the balance of goodness and justice that dedicated champions like Dame Frevisse can bring about, although with high cost. Readers will expect to see more of Margaret Frazer and her heroine in the future.