Third in the Sister Frevisse historical mystery series set outside Oxfordshire in medieval England. The stories revolve around Dame Frevisse, a highly intelligent nun.
There’s a familial up-and-down in this story as Dame Frevisse encounters her long-lost cousin Nicholas who is hoping for her help.
Dame Frevisse is truly a saint. I’would’ve left Sister Emma on her own. She is that incredibly irritating. A self-obsessed, whiny idjit with a stream-of-conscious chatter that is totally non-stop.
It’s the beating Beatrice suffers that inclines me toward the ill-wish against Nicholas. How could he not have considered the effect of his robbery? Evan certainly tried hard enough to stop him. But, what really caps it is Nick’s response to Beatrice.
The story certainly goes to show that fraud and embezzlement are part of the human condition just as, on the positive side, compassion is as well.
It’s a kidnapping with a ruthless purpose underlying it for all the concern “Robin and his Merry Men” project when Sister Emma falls ill. Luckily, one of Nicholas’ business partners lives nearby and is able to take the sisters in.
Nicholas does his best to convince Dame Frevisse that he’s changed, but a tiger simply cannot change his stripes as the ensuing events prove while his meetings with Master Payne cause a divide between ill-wishing and hope.
It’s a stressful time nursing Sister Emma and enduring Colfoot and the resulting traumas. Then Magadalen and Frevisse must play hide-in-plain-sight to save an innocent man.
Dame Frevisse has been chosen as escort to Sister Emma, a too-chatty sister excited about visiting her family for the baby’s christening. Roger Naylor is the priory’s steward and the sisters’ escort on this journey. Domina Edith is the head of the order at St. Frideswide.
“Robin Hood” is truly Nicholas, Dame Frevisse’s ne’er-do-well cousin. Of his Merry Men, there is “Will Scarlet”, “Little John” (they tend to fight over who gets to be Little John), Hal, Ned, Tom, Cullum, and others. Evan operates as their scout by going about the countryside as a peddler. He has his own secrets.
Thomas Chaucer is a man of great influence at the Court and Frevisse and Nicholas’ uncle. It’s his aid Nicholas hopes Frevisse will plead for as Nicholas was outlawed some 20 years ago.
Will Colfoot is a franklin and a very nasty way about him. And he fully intends to wed with Magdalene. By hook or by crook. Old Nan is the alewife in the village and Beatrice helps serve. Sometimes Beatrice serves more than just the ale.
Oliver Payne is a steward to a number of wealthy estates and has the house to prove his success. Mistress Payne is just as masterful albeit in a much kindlier manner in ruling the house. Oliver’s widowed sister, Magdalen Dow, lives with them. Master Edward is the oldest son and at Oxford; the rest of the children are Richard, Kate, Katherine (yes, two of ’em!), and Bartholomew. Sir Perys is the tutor. Bess is a maidservant loyal to Magdalen. Lovie, Maud, Tam, Jack, and Adam (who loves Beatrice) are also servants and provide Frevisse with quite a bit of background.
The cover is remaining consistent with its granite columns of inlaid marble —an electric royal blue this time—and the Gothic window with its elaborate stained glass insert in the peak of the window. There are narrow columns framing either side of the window also inlaid with marble with triangled inserts of acanthus leaves to square off the peak. Stepped moldings at the base of the outer columns and below the window provide a solid base with the plinths at the base of each column inlaid with a green marble. Through the window, a bag spilling coins on the tabletop is pierced by an arrow.
The title is true for this is The Outlaw’s Tale.