The Murderer’s Tale

Written by Margaret Frazer
Review by Marilyn Sherlock

There is a new prioress at St. Frideswide’s nunnery, and Dame Frevisse finds it difficult to get on with her. It is therefore something of a relief when she is allowed to accompany Dame Claire on a pilgrimage to Oxford and is asked to deliver a document to Lady Lovell at Minster Lovell en route. They meet Lionel Knyvet and others of his family also bound for Minster Lovell, and all meet up again later that day, but all is not well. Lionel is possessed of a demon which soon manifests itself in a fit. At these times he is always attended by his steward, Martyn Gravesend. When two days later Martyn is found dead in the chapel with Lionel lying unconscious, covered in blood, and with Martyn’s dagger beside him it is assumed that Lionel had another of his fits and killed Martyn. However, Dame Frevisse is not convinced.

This is one of a long line of Dame Frevisse mysteries, and it makes entertaining reading. The characters are believable enough and the plot well executed. Epilepsy, in the 15th century in which the story is set, had been known throughout history and was attributed to possession by the devil, and Margaret Frazer deals with this aspect of the story quite correctly. Her use of language, although quaintly old-fashioned, also fits well. I have read several of these books and always enjoy them. An easy read on a wet weekend or a long flight.