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by Margaret Frazer
Berkley, August 2007
304 pages
ISBN: 0425216683

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

During the autumn of 1435, Joliffe and Bassett's acting company arrive in London at the request of their benefactor. As Lord Lovell has been of great assistance and has provided the company with the necessary funds to improve their wardrobe and their fortunes, his requests are treated like law.

Joliffe has written a play against the Burgundians that Lord Lovell wants to show off to London's nobility. As the public is currently against the Burgundians, this play comes at an ideal time. In fact, there is currently physical violence being done against any Burgundians found on the streets.

Bishop Beaufort, Cardinal of England and relation of the King, has his own plans. He has heard of Joliffe's investigative skills and wants to employ him. He wants Joliffe to rewrite his new play so that the French appear to be the true villains. This will further his own plans for the country.

Having no choice Joliffe accepts the challenge. As he rewrites this play, bodies are discovered. Joliffe must solve these murders in order to protect his own life and the lives of his fellow actors. Only then will he be able to learn Bishop Beaufort's true plans for the acting company.

The one thing that would greatly improve A PLAY OF LORDS would be if Frazer had provided more details about the politics of the time period. The power struggle to become the King's new advisor is behind the bulk of the actions that occur within this book, yet the topic is not explored in enough depth. Frazer does provide a superficial explanation of all of the politics and undercurrents affecting life in London but this superficial explanation provides more questions than answers.

I will admit that the one element of historical mysteries I enjoy the most is the historical detail. Therefore any book that does not provide a lot of detail or depth is going to be a disappointment to me. A PLAY OF LORDS does provide vivid details about life on the street, such as the sights, sounds and smells of an overpopulated medieval city. But this does not compensate for the lack of detail about political power struggles.

A PLAY OF LORDS is the fourth book in the Joliffe mystery series. Each book in the series builds upon events and adventures that occurred in the previous books. Luckily the exact details of these dealings are not required to enjoy this book. All that the reader needs to know is that Joliffe has successfully done some investigating for Lord Lovell in the past. His skills as an investigator are what constantly puts his own life in danger.

Reviewed by Sarah Dudley, August 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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