The Sempster’s Tale

Written by Margaret Frazer
Review by Lucille Cormier

It is the summer of 1450. Dame Frevisse must travel to London to select cloth and patterns for church vestments. But Frevisse is also commissioned by her cousin, the Duchess of Suffolk, to receive and carry back “something.” Her contact with the sempster and noted embroiderer, Anne Blakhall, precipitates Frevisse into a maelstrom of murder, political insurrection, and a much tangled web of deceit. Barricaded within a merchant’s house as rebels rage through the streets of London, Frevisse combines forces with the foreign merchant, Daved Weir, to search out the murderer amongst them. Or is Frevisse matching wits with the killer himself?

As with her previous Dame Frevisse mysteries, Margaret Frazer offers a colorful, wonderfully detailed portrait of 15th century life as well as a cold-eyed assessment of human nature. The Sempster’s Tale is first of all a tender, sad love story. It is also a tale of greed, jealousy and corruption. The author does not temper the vileness of the Inquisition’s persecutions or the ignoble behavior of the “nobility.” But, through it all she writes an action-filled and fast-paced murder mystery that keeps you turning pages to the very end. Well worth the read!