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Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Morbid Taste for Bones - Ellis Peters

Read for the RIP VII Reading Challenge.

In the 12th century, the overly ambitious head of the Shrewsbury Abbey has been on the look out for the relics of a saint he could bring back to the abbey to increase the pilgrims that come there.   When he hears the tales of Saint Winifred, who’s buried in the tiny Welsh village of Gwytherin, he thinks he’s found exactly what he needs.    In the party the abbey sends to Gwytherin is Brother Cadfael, since he’s a Welshman himself, and will be able to translate for the English brothers.

Once they’re there, it becomes apparent that the villagers don’t want to give up their little saint, and not much later, the leading opponent of moving the grave turns up mysteriously dead, with an arrow in his back.    There are wild rumors that Saint Winifred herself shot the arrow, but Brother Cadfael knows that it was a mortal hand that did the deed, and it’s up to him to find out who.

Brother Cadfael’s an interesting character – only becoming a brother after an interesting life, including going on Crusade.    It’s this real life experience that helps him solve the murder, and also involves him in the lives of the Welsh villagers.   This is a wonderfully compelling mystery - I read it as fast as I could, just to see what had actually happened.

This is another one of those series I’ve had on my radar for a while, and now that I’ve read a book from it, I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner.    I love historical fiction, and this is obviously lovingly researched, and the characters are wonderfully drawn.    Fortunately for me, there’s a ton of them available at the local used book store (I picked up the first two for a song), so I definitely see myself reading more.


TracyK said...

I enjoyed your review. I too have been planning to read this series for a while. I have the first three and need to get to them soon.

Anonymous said...

If you get the chance, check out the tv version - Derk Jacobi (Jacoby?) is a fantastic Cadfael! I saw the series before reading any of the books and I think they're just as good.

Jenn said...

(oops, if that last comment made it through, it was me! If it didn't make it, I was just recommending the miniseries of Cadfael!)

Megan said...

I do remember seeing that series being out (I do like Derek Jacobi, so I think I noticed it because of him.)

sakura said...

Brother Cadfael is the first historical mystery series I read and I've been hooked ever since. I also recommend Susanna Gregory's Matthew Bartholomew series, Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series and everything by Peter Doherty!