An Excellent Mystery Paperback – May 19 1994
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From Library Journal
The celebration of St. Winifred, in The Pilgrim of Hate, is usually a time of great rejoicing at the Benedictine abbey in Shrewsbury. Even in 1141, with the political factions of Empress Matilda and King Stephen engaged in bloody civil war, the faithful come to Shrewsbury to honor the Saint and pray for miracles. Unfortunately, the shadow of a distant murder hangs over the festival. Several weeks earlier in Winchester, a good and loyal knight was foully slain. The motive for the killing could have been either political or personal, and the murderer may be lurking among the pilgrims. It falls to Brother Cadfael to ferret out the killer. He is curious about two young men who are traveling together to fulfill a bizarre vow. Cadfael cannot rest until he uncovers their story. A colorful cast of well-drawn secondary characters adds richness and depth to a plot that examines joys of faith, as well as the evils of guilt and vengeance. An Excellent Mystery, also set in 1141, is a close sequel to Pilgrim of Hate. When the Benedictine abbey at Winchester is ravaged by fire, two Brothers of the order seek sanctuary at Shrewsbury. Brother Humilis was a famous knight crusader before a nearly fatal wound led to his retirement from the secular world. His mute companion, Brother Fidelis, serves as Humilis's caretaker and nurse. Young Fidelis is like a shadow, his inability to speak makes him the keeper of many secrets. Stephen Thorne, who reads both novels, has a feel for Peters's distinctive prose style, making her use of medieval phrasing and vocabulary sound genuine and natural rather than "historical." Thorne voices the large number of characters and accents in each book with precision, making each unique. Librarians with long-established audiobook collections should note that both of these titles were originally issued in 1993. These recent reissues have been packaged in flimsy and irritating cardboard boxes, which are difficult to open and almost impossible to close. They are decorative but will not be useful for library checkout. Recommended nevertheless, for public library collections where Peters and/or historical mysteries are popular. Barbara Rhodes, Northeast Texas Lib. Syst., Garland
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
A pleasing and unusual mixture of suspense and historical fiction.―EVENING STANDARDSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
After the abbey at Winchester is burned down, two new monks arrive at Shrewsbury -- Brother Humilis, a famous ex-crusader, and Brother Fidelis, a mute young boy who follows him and cares for him. It also turns out that Humilis received some truly horrible wounds during the Crusades that are slowly killing him, and have left him basically castrated. Because of his injury, he ended his engagement to a rich young girl named Lady Julian and became a monk.
However, an old friend of his arrives at the abbey and asks for his blessing in wooing Julian... only to find that while her brother says she became a nun, there is no trace of her becoming one. Cadfael is brought into the investigation, with only some pieces of jewelry as the clues to where she has gone -- but it soon becomes clear that one of the monks is more than he appears.
This book ends with a marriage prayer, and honestly that isn't surprising. "An Excellent Mystery" revolves around marriage, thwarted love and how true love can be divorced from sex -- on one hand you have the deep love between Fidelis and Humilis, and on the other you have a bisexual monk's obsessions and with Rhun and Fidelis (which are all about physical attraction and rage, with no actual love).Read more ›
Peters books are a pleasure to read. She exhibits an elegant turn of phrase that. As someone else here has already remarked, she makes the "grim and gritty middle ages" sound like someplace you might actually want to live. And this is one of her better plots. I figured out what was going on about halfway through, but only because I got an unintentional hint from someone who had already read the book. Even so, it was a pleasure to watch the story unfold.
Elegant style and clever plotting aside, however, the story is a bit over-romanticized. For example, at one point Nicholas rides non-stop from Winchester to Shrewsbury, through both day and night and, finally, through a storm. He "must get his tale at once to the ears of authority" and he "dared not stop hating, or the remaining grief became more than he could stand." All this intense feeling over a girl he had only met once, three years earlier. Sorry if this makes me a chauvinist, but clearly this is a woman writing about how women wish men felt about them. This is the mystical ideal of chivalrous love.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
My goal is to read all of Cadfael's mysteries in the order they've been written. This one is the 11th. and it is as good as the very first. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Luisa Roberts
This entire series is great. A true feel for what life must have been like in the 1100's in England. Read morePublished on March 22 2001 by Russ White
Ellis Peters will be missed. BUT! Now Brother Cadfael belongs to history, and the readers who love him so.
Start at the beginning and READ THIS SERIES! Read more
I have to say that this is my favorite of the Chronicles. It has great characters, a riveting storyline, and the most beautiful picture of true, sacrificial love I have ever... Read morePublished on Sept. 5 2000 by Laura Johnson
Though I love Brother Cadfael, this story was most tedious and far-fetched. I couldn't believe that this young woman would do what she did for a man she hardly knew, and the... Read morePublished on Jan. 25 1999 by M. Palmer
In this moving and dramatic story,Ellis Peters succeeds in doing something I thought was impossible in a mystery - and I am a mystery writer myself. Read morePublished on Jan. 11 1999