And she’s back! In my review of “The Bastard’s Tale” last week, I theorized there were two people writing as Margaret Frazer. One likes to write exciting murder mysteries while the other likes the more subtle, intrigue-laden stories. “The Widow’s Tale” was written by the first writer, which means it moves at a much faster and therefore, must better pace.
The novel focuses on a young woman who loses her husband to an untimely and unidentified illness. After his death, his greedy cousins immediately move in, taking over his manor and its holdings. They kidnap the widow Cristiana and cart her off to a nunnery for “penance”, telling the nuns many lies and forbidding anyone to talk to her. Of course, the nunnery turns out to be St. Frideswide and soon Dame Frevisse is up to her eyeballs in a new mess. When Master John Say, a close associate of Cristiana “rescues” her, Domina Elisabeth and Frevisse are obligated to go with her.
The future of Cristiana and her daughters is caught in a tug-of-war between Say and Cristiana’s cousins-in-law. Fortunately, Frevisse can watch from the sidelines and not get sucked into the middle of everything.
Until her cousin Alice de la Pole, duchess of Suffolk, charges her with finding a traitor among the household. The real murder mystery doesn’t begin until three-fourths of the way through the novel. Still there is enough action to keep the reader interested but this pattern of alternating slow-fast stories, one can predict how the next book will read.