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A Play of Heresy (A Joliffe Mystery) Paperback – December 6, 2011
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
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About the Author
Margaret Frazer is a full-time writer. She has twice been a finalist for the Edgar(r) Award in the paperback original category. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
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Joliffe and his fellow players have found an unusually pleasant place in the sun, working on the Corpus Christi (midsummer) plays depicting the life of Christ in the town of Coventry. Joliffe is involved in three different plays, a spying mission, and finally a jury which has the responsibility to investigate a murder. The account of the plays, which are individually sponsored by the town workmen's guilds and performed mostly by townspeople, and each of which has its own wagon which rolls through town from one audience to another, performing its play in the proper sequence at each stop, is fascinating. We also get an introduction to the problem of Lollards--proto-Protestants who may or may not be plotting against the powers that be, not only Church but State. The murder mysteries themselves are not terribly deep but lead satisfyingly into explorations of Coventry's streets, yards, taverns, shops, churches, and troubled recent past.
The book is elegantly written, with a carefully chosen vocabulary which draws us into Joliffe's mind and world. As others have noted, it is valuable for its depiction of a particular place and time in both religious and theatrical history.