Length: 6 hours 33 minutes
Series: Sister Frevisse, #3
Published by Dream Machine Productions, Tantor Audio on December 21, 2010
Genres: Historical Mystery
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I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
ACT OF MERCY, ACT OF MURDER
Leaving the safety of her nunnery walls behind, Dame Frevisse is drawn into an unholy web of treachery and deceit. Waylaid on the King's Highway by a band of outlaws, Frevisse is shocked to discover that their leader is her long-lost cousin Nicholas. When he pleads with her to help him obtain a pardon for his crimes, she finds herself trapped between the harsh edicts of the law and the mercy of her vows.
But even as she struggles to restore his fortunes, Frevisse must fight to save his soul... and his life. Before the outlaw's tale can be told, the saintly nun will find herself trapped in a manor house of murder, caught between the holy passions of the heart and the sinful greeds of man.
What a situation for a cloistered medieval nun to find herself in? It could have been a tale straight from the Robin Hood legend when Sister Frevisse’s small party is accosted by outlaws who merrily take them, prisoner. Loved that it was off to an exciting start.
The Outlaw’s Tale is the third of the Sister Frevisse standalone mysteries. Frevisse is along with Master Naylor as chaperone and escort for one of the other sisters in her cloister who must travel for a family obligation. However, near the end of the journey, Frevisse discovers her own family obligation has just caused them to be waylaid so her cousin, branded an outlaw in his youth, can plead his case. Nicholas wants her to approach their powerful uncle, Thomas Chaucer (son of the family Canterbury Tales author, Geoffrey), to use his influence at royal court to achieve this.
While she is still contemplating whether he and his men are truly turned a new leaf, Sister Emma falls ill and they are taken to a nearby manor where a reluctant lord who has had business dealings with Nicholas’ band and his not so reluctant widowed sister take them in. Frevisse observes that the sister, Magdalen, has connections to the outlaw band and her worry grows that Nick is not as repentant as he would have her to believe. There is something of a family feud taking place and the widow is none too interested in a repulsive suitor for her hand- a suitor who is murdered. Frevesse has her hands full now as she is determined to discover if Nicholas or his men did the deed and how to extricate her party from danger.
The Outlaw’s Tale has more exciting elements than the two previous mysteries and it was fun to see her in a new setting outside the cloister and in the ticklish situation of a bad boy charming cousin needing her help.
I most enjoy the attention to detail of the time period and the religious background of the central characters. Frevisse has a complex character that is a part contemplative nun, but also wry humor and a sharp observer. She is respectful and even reverential when needed, but she doesn’t suffer foolishness well and Sister Emma’s chatterbox ways bring this out.
On a side note, I was really taken with Master Naylor who is the steward of their abbey and acts as a smart and able assistant to Frevisse. There is more to him than meets the eye.
The mystery was clever, but not as complicated as previous ones. Or, maybe I just latched onto the person by happenstance and saw no reason to change my mind when some others seemed more obvious. It was still a good mystery and the end still gave me some surprise.
I enjoyed the story in audio with the capable and gifted Susan Duerden narrating. She did great with the large cast of voices and had a good range with gender, class, and personalities. I love the way she does Frevisse particularly when she is contemplating matters. I hope she does the whole series.
In summary, it was another wonderful outing with the series and I can’t wait for the next. Historical mystery lovers should definitely give the Sister Frevisse series a go.
My thanks to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.