In this second book of the Joliffe series, Joliffe and his fellow players, now under the patronage of Lord Lovell, are asked to perform at a wedding as a gift to the couple. But Lord Lovell has an ulterior motive for playing patron to the troupe - he asks Joliffe to spy on the household of the betrothed Mariena, whose first fiance had fallen ill and died before the wedding, and determine if there is something to be suspicious of in this second marriage before it is finalized. What Joliffe uncovers is a tangle of sordid secrets that can only end in tragedy.
Frazer's writing has always impressed me, but this one was staggering in its weaving of a cloud of darkness and evil. Though the revelations do not come as a shock as she provides enough clues for the reader to guess at them, still the unraveling of the tangle to reveal the final picture has a strong impact that leaves a muted horror and lingering uneasiness at the depravity that can exist in the world.