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A Play of Heresy (Joliffe the Player #7)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  273 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews

From the pages of the national bestselling Dame Frevisse mysteries.

While performing in the theatrical and religious festival of Corpus Christi Day in Coventry, Joliffe is summoned by Bishop Beaufort to use his skills as a spy to uncover the mysteries of the town's elite. A merchant has gone missing, presumed dead-and members of Joliffe's company are implicated in the

Paperback, 304 pages
Published December 6th 2011 by Berkley
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Dennis Fischman
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
I'm neither an actor nor a Christian, so the fact that this book led me to understand now the Coventry plays could inspire the average person in the Middle Ages is a bit of a miracle in itself. The Sebastian character, with his fixation on the Lollards, grew tiresome. Still, I could not but shiver as I thought, "Transpose Muslim for Lollard and this could be a current tragedy."

We will never know what Frazer might have got up to with Joliffe the Player if she'd lived to write another book, but he
Dec 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I particularly enjoyed the depiction of Medieval life combined with the depiction of theatre practices and explanations. This is a great book. Lots of information and an enjoyable story.
Kathy Davie
Mar 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Seventh in the Joliffe the Player historical mystery series set in 1438 in Coventry, England. It's the season for the Corpus Christi plays, and the playing should be profitable in Coventry.

My Take
This story concentrates on the acting portion of the players involved with most of the action on Joliffe and his work with Will. We do get to eavesdrop on Joliffe's investigations of the people involved as he tries to find out what happened [and whodunnit] to Kydwa. We only encounter Basset and company
Dec 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, historical
"A Play of Heresy" is a historical mystery set in 1438 in England. This is the seventh book in this series, but you can understand it without needing to read the previous books, and it doesn't spoil the mysteries in the previous novels.

While the mystery was enjoyable, I found the historical information extremely interesting. The author clearly did her research, but I never felt like I was being lectured to or given information not relevant to the story. The rich historical detail brought the sto
Brenda Mengeling
Dec 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 48
A Play of Heresy is another enjoyable entry into the Joliffe the Player series by Margaret Frazer. These medieval mysteries take place in England in the early 15th century.

The story opens with Joliffe on the road to rejoin the band of players he belongs to after spy work for the Bishop of Winchester. The players are part of the city of Conventry's Corpus Christi festival at which the local townspeople star in a series of plays that cover the stories in the Bible. Just before arriving, he meets
Oct 05, 2015 rated it liked it
The last book of the Joliffe player series but not the best book in the series. I did appreciate the historical information and references found at end in Author's Notes.
While I am not privy to when this author was given her breast cancer diagnosis, I do believe she was saying goodbye to her player troupe in this book. There is a gathering at a tavern after the plays have been given (and murder mystery solved) where the players reminisce and tease one another going back to Piers as baby Jesus...
Mar 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Frazer's strength is the historical contextualizing of her medieval mysteries. This one does that well. Seventh in the Joliffe series, it is set in Coventry, England, in 1438, as Joliffe joins the preparations for the annual Corpus Christi cycle of plays, performed on carts and moved about the city to a range of staging locations, in succession. We learn quite a bit about what plays were performed, how they were probably performed, and what roles guild members and townsfolk had in this annual ri ...more
Jan 01, 2012 rated it liked it
While I love the Joliffe mysteries this one did not engage me as much as the others had. Even though he had returned to his troupe, there was not as much interaction with them as I would have liked for I like them all.

For readers to whom the 'mystery' element is the meat of it, then perhaps this isn't the book for them. There is a murder and it gets solved, but for me the draw (aside from the characters) is the way the author can pull me into the time period and the way life ran and in this cas
Dec 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is one of my favorite series along with the Dame Frevisse stories that Joliffe spun off of. I enjoyed this book very much but, it lacked the spark that the other books have had. Joliffe spent too much time ruminating various things in his head. He spent a lot of time just walking around thinking - not a lot of doing. It made the story drag in spots for me. I missed the interactions with Basset and the other players too - the warmth of those moments was lacking in this book.

I enjoyed learnin
Oct 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Gail Frazer,author of a multitude of wonderful books about Medieval
England, lost her years long battle with cancer in February 2013. All of the characters I have grown to love in her books passed with her. I will miss the opportunity to look forward to the next book by Margaret Frazer.

I was fortunate enough to have met Ms Frazer and to have a wonderful conversation with her about her writing. She shared with me wisdom about the life of a writer and encouraged me to remain with my craft even when
Kilian Metcalf
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Next time I read this series, I hope I remember to switch to order and read this before #6, A Play of Piety. Lollards are not very interesting, and the playmaking is scattered among too many companies. #6 makes a better end to the series, if end there must be. I'm sad that I won't be able to learn more of Joliffe's history, but perhaps it is appropriate that he remain slightly mysterious. It doesn't hurt his allure any to be just a bit hazy about his name, his life before he joined the players, ...more
Jan 16, 2012 rated it liked it
This medieval mystery is the first by this author that I have read, and I liked it. The main character is Joliffe, a traveling actor who is also a spy. The book centers around the religious festival of Corpus Christi in Coventry, when the various merchant guilds of the town produced plays performed on wagons that were pulled to different sites. The characters, language and clearly drawn medieval setting are effective in pulling the reader into that period of history.
Bill Bradford
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Another in the excellent Joliffe series. The story drags just a bit in the middle. There is not a lot of character growth - this is more of a traditional mystery than some others in the series. There is a wealth of historical information, even more so than usual - and as Frazer always makes the 1400's come alive, it is a treasure. This is the best part and great strength of this book. It is much more fulfilling to read if you have already read the prior books in the series.
Janet Ankiel
The role of the various plays was as welcoming and as comfortable as a favorite pair of slippers. Frazer incorporates solid historical detail that urges the reader to pay attention to all historical elements as the mystery unfolds. As an aficionado of all.things medieval, the author reinforces this readers belief that the so called Dark Ages were not nearly as dark as one might think. Life was hard, but communities nurtured law and order with some success.
Apr 07, 2013 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed the early books in this series where the player/writer Joliffe toured with his playing group and was able to solve complex situations along the way. However, he is now also working as a spy for a Bishop in addition to that work, and while that adds more complexity to his situation, it doesn't add more depth to what he is doing. Just more internal thought dialogue to himself and less time with the other players. I'm hoping the future books in the series balance this a bit more.
Al Mcphee
Aug 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Pretty good; a Joliffe the Player mystery by Margaret Frazer, best known for the Dame Frevisse novels. A 15th century actor, who is also a spy for Bishop Beaufort, is commissioned to discover what happened to another spy who has disappeared. The story is balanced though the ending is weak. Good and somewhat more than a light read.
Oct 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Although this book came out at just the right time to be a perfect Christmas present for me, I was far too impatient to wait a couple more weeks. I bought it for myself, then sat down and read it. I’m addicted to the "A Joliffe the Player Mystery" series.

See my full review at Reading World.
Mar 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've thoroughly enjoyed both series written by Margaret Frazer, Joliffe the Player and Dame Frevisse. I will miss the further adventures in both. Thank you Margaret for your art. May you rest in peace.
Toni Moore
Dec 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
I like ALL of Margaret Frazer's books. She's a master at drawing you into the story and making you feel as if you are living in the same place and time as her characters. Joliffe is an engaging character and the background of the religious intolerance prevalent at the time is intriguing.
Dec 05, 2011 added it
How sad it is that this talented writer died without being able to finish this great series.

When I play the Coventry Carol this fall, I'll think of this book and its author. That carol is from one of only two plays that survive from the Coventry cycle - imagine what else may have been lost!
Feb 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Joliffe is in Coventry to meet up with his troup of players, just in time for the festivities of Corpus Christ, and murder. Using his skills as a player, along with those learned from spying, Joliffe listens and learns the answers. Great read, as usual.
Mary Munroe
Feb 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Joliffe returns to the traveling players and find Bassett ill. His arthritis threatens to be crippling which would destroy the troupe. As he heals in a medieval hospital, Joliffe continues his career as a shrewd detective and solves a murder.
Laurie Ann Silberman
Jan 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Started slow, but an excellent addition to this series. The way the Corpus Christi festivals were integrated with the plot was excellent. It was interesting to see perhaps the one time of the year where players were welcomed and were treated with more respect.
Kathy Moberg
Jan 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a very special series. I love the window into the medieval English theater world with good mysteries and fascinating characters to boot! Joliffe himself is so interesting and mysterious. I wonder when loyal readers will find out about his past?!
Nov 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The last of the Joliffe the Player series, this book involves a mystery in Coventry during the annual festival of plays there in the 1400s. As always, Frazer brings life and insight into the medieval era and its history, politics, and everyday life through a good story. I wish there were many more.
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
I always enjoy Frazer's books because her characters are believable and her knowledge of the relevant information about the era is obvious but well-integrated into the story. I have always been interested in Medieval play cycles so this book was especially interesting.
The last of the Joliffe novels, which makes me sad. I love this series, though this one felt a little flat.
Kathy Sebesta
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
One of my favorite characters. I like both her medieval series - she plots well and does characters extremely well.
Sep 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really enjoy the Joliffe series.
Beth Tedford
Dec 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Another great addition to the series.
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Margaret Frazer is a pen name used at first by Mary Monica Pulver Kuhfeld and Gail Lynn Frazer writing in tandem for a series of historical medieval mysteries featuring Dame Frevisse. After the sixth novel, the works are written by Gail Frazer alone, and the name has subsequently been used exclusively by her. A second series of novels by Ms Frazer set in the same time and place feature the player/ ...more
More about Margaret Frazer...

Other Books in the Series

Joliffe the Player (7 books)
  • A Play of Isaac (Joliffe the Player, #1)
  • A Play of Dux Moraud (Joliffe the Player, #2)
  • A Play of Knaves (Joliffe the Player, #3)
  • A Play of Lords (Joliffe the Player, #4)
  • A Play of Treachery (Joliffe the Player, #5)
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