The Christmas season brings strange guests to the medieval nunnery of St. Frideswide's when a troupe of penniless players comes knocking at the gate. They bear with them the badly mangled body of a villager, swearing they found the drunken fool lying in a ditch. But Meg, the victim's wife and a scullery maid of the cloister, thinks there are far fouler deeds afoot.
As the players rehearse for the nativity, ancient scandals lick at their heels and dark desperation haunts Meg's steps as she finds cruel feudal laws threatening to strip away the lands that would support both her and her sons in the wake of her husband's death.
Dame Frevisse must thrust herself between these violent feuds, awakening dreams of her youth that she had believed long buried. Her very faith may be threatened, but Frevisse knows she must unravel a path to true salvation... before false raptures of lust bring ruination upon them all.
NOMINATED FOR THE 1994 EDGAR AWARD
PRAISE FOR THE SERVANT'S TALE
"Period detail, adroit characterizations, and lively dialogue add to the pleasure of this labyrinthine tale." - Publishers Weekly
"This mystery is so rich with place and time that they become characters in the story. Dame Frevisse is a stalwart, appealing sleuth and the cold, dark priory and the squalor of Medieval England are fascinating backdrops." - New Orleans Times-Picayune
"The writing is seamless... The atmosphere of the book is cold and blustery, danger afield. A well-steeped sense of history prevails... They make this novel more than a mystery, but a wonderful historical dark tapestry. We are transported back to the 14th century. One of the 10 best mystery novels of 1993." - Minneapolis Star Tribune
"I look forward to more murders at St. Frideswide." - The Mystery Review
"Frazer never falters in this magnificent historical... This is a perfect mystery: It's flawless." - Drood Review of Mystery
PRAISE FOR THE SISTER FREVISSEE MEDIEVAL MYSTERY SERIES
"Exciting writing, colorful characters, and historical accuracy." - St. Paul Pioneer Press
"Tale[s] of mystery, intrigue, jealousy and ambition, well drawn, well paced, and a pleasure to read." - Historical Novels Review
"The series gets better and better as it goes along." - Grounds for Mystery
"Margaret Frazer has quietly claimed her place as one of the preeminent writers of historical crime fiction, delivering the whole package - a good mystery, wonderful characters, and a fascinating period of history. [...] Her novels are a dream to read." - Aunt Agatha's Newsletter
"Frazer's quiet yet intense medieval mysteries are so vividly and gracefully written you just float back in time..." - The Poisoned Pen
"A smooth and absorbing saga of conspiracy and treachery in 15th-century England..." - Publishers Weekly
A Romantic Times Top Pick.
Twice nominated for the Minnesota Book Award.
Twice nominated for the Edgar Award.