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A Play of Treachery (Berkley Prime Crime Mysteries) Mass Market Paperback – Dec 2009

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 329 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Books; Original edition (Dec. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425223337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425223338
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 2.3 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 731,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By BookBeetle on 17 Dec. 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This book supplies the missing link between Joliffe the actor, and Joliffe the secret agent!Margaret Frazer has outdone herself on her latest medieval mystery. Her character of Joliffe, the player, is magical and at the same time believably human as he wends his way through a seemingly impenetrable trail of secrets about who killed whom and why.

Ms Frazer is reliable in her research, and compelling in her telling of stories; it is absorbing and very real. Inevitably, France is full of political intrigue, and warring, but the human interest never gets lost amidst the complex wars and quarrels of fifteenth century Normandy.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I like these novels for the general historical background as well as for the detail about medieval plays and wandering players .Having seen the York Mystery plays , I appreciate these books even more .The plotting is skilful and the settings and characters believable, but I'm finding the American English intrusive , and this jars with the emphasis on how "English" these novels are. American readers
may well not notice such things , and may very well not care , but I do regret that phrases and words leap out at me , spoiling the
illusion !
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 22 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
best installment yet of the Joliffe series 14 Dec. 2009
By Ballouville - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I just finished reading this book, and loved it - it's well written, rich in detail about political realities in 15th century France/England, and the main character, Joliffe, is an enjoyable protagonist to follow. I also read Frazer's Dame Frevisse series, in which Joliffe occasionally appears, and "A Play of Treachery" fills a gap in that we finally get to see how Joliffe goes from being an actor to spy. In "A Play of Treachery" Joliffe goes to France to be trained as a spy, and he and the reader become aware that he's a bit player on the wider stage of court intrigue, who as yet knows little about what parts others play, or even what script is being performed. The end seems to hint that the next Joliffe book, too, will take place in the tumult of France, away from Joliffe's English home and the players who have become his family. But as Joliffe found a little romance in Rouen, perhaps his staying in France means there will be more on that front...!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Worth Waiting For! 6 Dec. 2009
By KmVictorian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
It was almost six months from the time I ordered "A Play of Treachery" before the just-published book finally came from Amazon. It was well worth the wait.

Margaret Frazer has outdone herself on this latest medieval mystery. Her character of Joliffe, the player, is magical and at the same time believably human as he wends his way through a seemingly impenetrable trail of secrets about who killed whom and why.

Although there is a great deal of political warring and historical intrigue in the book, Frazer has good control of her material. The human interest never gets lost amidst the complex wars and quarrels of fifteenth century Normandy.

If you're a Frazer fan and you haven't yet ordered your copy of "A Play of Treachery," I highly recommend doing so. No more waiting for it--it's in stock right now!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
An Actor's Most Perilous Role 21 Mar. 2010
By Miz Ellen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Margaret Frazer wrote a superb series of medieval mysteries in which the keen wits of Sister Frevisse illuminated crimes both high and low. In taking a nun for her detective, Frazer had a character who was severely limited by her sex and station in life. Frazer always found a way around this, but the limitations chaffed, particularly as the series aged.

Happily for her devoted readers, Frazer took a minor character who had appeared sometimes in the Sister Frevisse books and built a new series around him. As fond as I was of Frevisse, I adore Joliffe the player. As an actor wandering with a small family troop, his situation was interesting and his life full of variety.

Each one of the Joliffe's titles starts with 'A PLAY OF ----'; so there is '...ISAAC', '...DUX MORAUD', '...KNAVES'. Each title is taken from the main production that Joliffe's troop is performing. The next book, A PLAY OF LORDS, is set in London and the crime Joliffe solves touches on some vital points of interest, bringing him to the attention of some powerful men.

In A PLAY OF TREACHERY, Frazer has upped the ante.

Joliffe's cleverness in solving crime has consequences. His latest set of instructions takes him away from the small troop of players that are closer than family to him. Now he dons the disguise of a disgraced clerk and travels to France in the train of a lordly bishop. Joliffe's new patron means to test him as well as train him.

France is at war; Normandy is in upheaval. Joliffe finds himself attached to the household of the young and beautiful duchess of Bedford, a widow in mourning for her much older husband. Playing a role that he dare not doff, even for an instant, Joliffe finds his talents tested to the utmost. Were he to solve this crime a second too late, the entire course of history would have changed. This is splendid fun!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A spinoff that threatens to outshine its origins 30 Jan. 2010
By Emmy Lou - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Margaret Frazer's many Dame Frevisse stories have given me much pleasure over the past few years as I've journeyed with her spiritually and otherwise from her early days as a Benedictine nun right through to her election as Superior of the convent where she has lived,now for so long. Among the many colorful characters that she has encountered in her various travels and investigations is Joliffe, the player. We are always intrigued and amused by the relationship that develops between these two such disparate individuals.

Now, since 2004, she has given us five novels where Joliffe comes front and center. As he travels with Bassett and his family of players, writing and re-writing their repertoire, as well as acting in each play, Joliffe finds himself embroiled in events the players get involved in during their time in the various towns and manor houses where they stop to perform. His many skills, honed on the stage, begin to be valued for their ability to get to the bottom of murders and other problems. While Ellis, his fellow player, sees only a trouble maker, Bassett understands his value and works with him to untangle many of these complicated situations.

Eventually, as we come to this fifth in the series, Joliffe has been recruited for work in what can only be described as eccelsiastical espionage. Now we see Joliffe using all his actor's talents, his keen observations, and the gentle caring behind his somewhat cynical exterior.

These book attract me especially for the medieval stagecraft that fills the stories. Another recurring theme in all Frazer's novels is the terrible plight of women of all stations in the Middle Ages. Working class women are condemned to a life of unremitting toil and often die young, frequently in childbirth. Women of higher standing are little more than pawns at the hands of the men in their lives who determine the direction of their lives from childhood, choose their husbands, and take possession of them, their bodies and their materials wealth. Many of the plots hang on attempts by female characters to break out of this prison life and detemine their own destiny.

While there is lots of fascinating information about daily life in the Middle Ages, colorful characters to enjoy, and plots to watch unreel, the 'bottom line' here is that they are all a ripping good read and have kept me awake many a night till I could close the book with a regretful sign that yet another Joliffe story had come to an end.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Joliffe takes center stage 31 Jan. 2010
By Carole D. Wiggins - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are a fan of Margaret Frazer's, you're probably aware that "The Apostate's Tale" ends with Dame Frevisse being elected prioress of St. Frideswide around the year 1452. By transferring the main character in this series about England during the reign of Henry VI from a nun who's growing older to the younger player-turned-spy Simon Joliffe and beginning "A Play of Treachery" in 1436, Frazer gives medieval history and mystery fans a new chance to learn more about the first half of the 15th century. Joliffe is able to range wider and farther than Dame Frevisse could, with many more adventures. Frazer's history is as accurate as always -- there are many real historical figures where they were and doing what history shows they were doing at the time. I look forward to many more Joliffe books. Frazer's scholarship, plots and prose continue to fascinate me. I highly recommend "A Play of Treachery."
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