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A Play of Treachery (Joliffe the Player, #5)
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A Play of Treachery (Joliffe the Player #5)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  367 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
At the behest of his powerful patron, Joliffe journeys to France to act as a servant to the widowed duchess Jacquetta of Bedford - while actually training in spycraft. But when a member of the duchess's household is murdered, Joliffe learns just how dangerous secrets can be...
Mass Market Paperback, 325 pages
Published December 1st 2009 by Berkley (first published 2009)
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Kathy Davie
Jan 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Fifth in the Joliffe medieval mystery series revolving around an actor/writer turned spy for the Bishop Beaufort. This story takes place in Rouen, France in early 1436.

My Take
I loved how Frazer pulled the origins of the Woodville family into this story. Sigh...young love that began a dynasty. I also love the political scheming and its back-and-forth, but I do miss the banter between the players. Still, Joliffe does get to be a part of the doings of the high and mighty. He also begins to discov
Apr 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Fifth in this series by an author of fifteenth century mysteries good at giving cultural and social details of the historical context. In this one, Joliffe is sent to France, the city of Rouen, where he becomes immersed in the intrigues of the household of Lady Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford a beautiful and very wealthy young widow, niece of an influential bishop, who both the English and French forces would like to employ as an instrument in their struggles for enduring power in Normandy. Joliff ...more
Dec 03, 2017 rated it liked it
I initially bought this book because I had read another story in this series - A Play of Dux Moraud. I understand, however, that A Play of Treachery is actually the fifth in the series, but although there are some references to earlier book(s) and occurences, I found that I coped well without that prior knowledge. It follows the adventures of Joliffe, as he is sent away from his troupe of players and on into France, where he has never been before. There, he is interred in the household of a lady ...more
Karenbike Patterson
Aug 30, 2017 rated it liked it
The mystery doesn't really start until page 200 when there is a murder. Then the plot slowly reveals who did it and why over the next 130 pages. It has nothing much to do with the politics going on at the time but the interest for me was the historical time period and that some of the characters are based on real people. Consistent plot and characters.
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A bit slow in spots, but still wonderful

A worthy addition to the series. A totally different setting, a very different set of characters. But still a satisfying mystery. But I do hope that we eventually get back to the original. In any case, I'm overjoyed that I have more to enjoy.
Kilian Metcalf
Dec 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Oh, Joliffe, I love you so. I'm so sorry that we will never learn more of your backstory, but I'm happy we have as much as we have.

Joliffe takes a big step from the small world of a traveling player into the greater world of politics at the highest level. The mighty ones have noticed his intelligence and abilities, and he is placed as a spy into the household of the Dowager Duchess of Bedford, the redoubtable Jaquetta. Married and widowed barely out of childhood, she is a woman alone in a world
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Joliffe the player's life takes an unexpected turn as the powerful Bishop Beaufort, whom he agreed to serve, sends him to France as a spy in the household of Duchess Jacquetta, the Duke of Bedford's widow. War is brewing and Paris may not hold. As well, Joliffe is to be trained in skills useful to a spy, and though he welcomes lessons in wrestling and defense, he is discomfited to be taught how to kill as well. When one of Lady Jacquetta's ladies in waiting is murdered, Joliffe must solve the my ...more
Jobiska (Cindy)
Jul 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this next step in Joliffe's transition from full-time player to spy/agent. I did feel it moved somewhat slowly at first, but I know that was probably necessary to set the stage for his future ventures. In fact, I anticipated it, as this is a big departure from the stories of Joliffe solving murders while still serving as a player in his usual troupe, and I have seen enough tidbits of Joliffe's later life in the newer Frevisse books where she encounters him, so I knew the transitional w ...more
Patricia O'Sullivan
Jan 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
As an actor with a traveling company, Joliffe has played many roles. But when the Bishop Beaufort asks him to play the spy, Joliffe knows his skills will be tested. The year is 1436 and young King Henry VI is trying to secure his French lands against the Dauphin Louis. Joliffe must play the role of a clerk in a French household loyal to King Henry while also training to be a spy under a weapons master. The role is not difficult and Joliffe finds himself enjoying the luxury of living in a chateau ...more
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
The tempo has picked up in this series and now I am holding breath for the next book to arrive in my mailbox. This one took Joliffe out of England for the first time in his life, and it was far more interesting for him to leave the acting troupe and find himself in a royal household in Roen with a cast of very interesting characters - with murder to solve. He learns spycraft and warcraft and the need to utilize these new skills is required. In addition, this time period of 1436 was politically c ...more
Jun 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've read the whole of the Chaucer-related series by Margaret Frazer, with the nuns. I loved them. And I read the first of these she has begun with the players. This one, though, if my very favorite 9so far as there are a couple others). Her descriptions of people and how they think and what they wonder about, about Joliffe and how he thinks about his place in the world -- of it had me thinking and nodding and wondering myself. Somehow she has been able, in this book, to use the language style s ...more
Re-read 5/1/13; re-read again 1/6/16; re-read again August 2017

This (and Frazer's A Boy's Tale, part of her Sister Frevisse series) is probably my favorite of Margaret Frazer's historical mysteries. The story of England's inexorable loss of French territories during Henry VI's reign is a fascinating background (as is medieval Rouen, in Normandy) to Joliffe the Player's training as a spy for the Bishop of Winchester. Both Joliffe and Frevisse are complex rounded characters, and I am still sad the
Martha Meyer
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this paperback (2009) by chance and I just loved it! Right now, there is nothing as good as inhabiting Joliffe's world; he is an actor learning to be a spy in 1436. He's surrounded by historical figures and in fact saves the life of King Henry VIII's great grandmother at the end of this novel. This little gem of a book plays with ideas of acting & dissembling and whether they lead to lying & spying. If you want a cozy and well researched medieval mystery, this will more than ...more
Catherine  Mustread
A bit different than the first four books in the Joliffe the Player series, as Joliffe is separated from his troupe and sent as a spy to France for six months. Set in 1436 when tensions were high between England and France with the Duke of Burgundy switching his allegiance from England to France.

Great suspense, though a bit repetitive as Joliffe mulls over the options of who did what when and why.
Bill Bradford
Feb 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Towards the end of the book, as Joliffe is working on the final solution to the murder, he is described thus:
"Joliffe has rarely been satisfied with knowing the merely what of things. The why was what drew him, and mixed in with the why was always who".

This is a good nutshell statement of what makes Frazer's works so interesting. Not only are they historically fascinating, but they get deeply into the "why" of being human. Good at the first, this is one of the best at the latter.
Dennis Fischman
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
As with so many of Frazer's books, who did it and how is less important than why...and the reasons behind the death of one of the ladies in waiting of the widow of the duke in Bedford are central to the reasons that England doesn't rule France today. Good historical fiction with a mystery thrown in as a lagniappe.
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Joliffe has his debt called in by the bishop, and is sent to Rouen to spy for him. I was interested in the medieval French (or, rather, Norman) setting and the mystery is a good one, although, like Joliffe, I missed the troupe of players with whom he usually keeps company. Also, the story ends in a sort of cliffhanger that isn't resolved. But it's a fine entry in this series.
Aug 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is such a shame that Frazer never got to write more of the Joliffe books, as the medieval spy-dom is just something she does so well. the complexity, and suffocation, of a noble household in Rouen at wartime is wonderfully drawn, and the exploration of another world of women possibly most intriguing.
May 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
This was too slow and confusing with the politics between England and France. I felt like this book spent too much time building up the scene and not enough with an actual mystery . . . although that could be my fault that I expected a mystery. The actual murder didn't occur until you were 80% finished with the book! I won't be pursuing any more of the Joliffe series.
Michelle Wardhaugh
Apr 17, 2011 added it
Recommended to Michelle by:
In the end I liked it and look forward to what comes next. However, a lot of the political details in the beginning started to rather bore me, and the murder didn't happen until 2/3 the way through the book. I kept with it for love of the character and was rewarded. Now I just have to find a copy of the 6th book in the series.
Jan 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
It seems like every time I finish a Margaret Frazer book, I'm anxious for the next one. This one is no exception. It's a good spy story and a good murder mystery, although the murder comes rather late in the book. It's very enjoyable and I'm looking forward to see where Joliffe's adventures take him next!
May 19, 2013 rated it liked it
I found this Joliff book a little more tedious than the other, perhaps because I was eager to finish the books I had on hand because of getting a bit behind on other reads. Nevertheless, the fascination for me continues because of the historical setting and socioeconomic insights. I wish Frazer would show us more of the character of Joliff, both internal and external.
Dec 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Joliffe is off to France while the English are barely hanging on to their possession. It is a turbulent time, and Joliffe must learn new skills to survive even while enjoying the "soft life" of a bishop's household, posing as a clerk to the bishop's niece.
Nov 03, 2010 rated it did not like it
The protag goes ndercover in a French household while learning to be a spy. Threats are rumored from Agnarmacs and Burgundians.

All in all, I could nto get into this story. The setting was interesting and the secrets and history. But all-in-all left me bored,.
Aug 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: series, mysteries, europe

Joliffe the player goes to France for his training as a spy. He arrives right in the middle of preparations for war, as the Dauphin tries to take back France from King Henry VI of England. Lots of politics in this one made it confusing.
The Joliffe books are much less about murder mysteries and much more about hanging out with an interesting, clever character in an interesting, dangerous age. I felt my attention flagging about halfway through this one, but I really liked the ending.
Typically excellent story of medieval intrigue, set in England and France during the 100 Years War. The characters are realistic and the "history lessons" are sufficient to understand the setting without overwhelming the plot.
Apr 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really enjoy this series. If you like historical fiction and mysteries these books are for you!
Feb 26, 2010 rated it liked it
A new twist for this comfortable medieval series as the action moves out of England into France. Still very enjoyable because of the attention to historical detail and the characters.
Feb 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
A different slant on historical mystery. Well written with a good plot that contained much too much political intrigue for me that I couldn't follow. Characters were good.
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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 Piety (Joliffe the Player, #6)
  • A Play of Heresy (Joliffe the Player, #7)

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