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One Corpse Too Many [Mass Market Paperback]

Ellis Peters
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A superior mystery Aug. 31 2002
An intelligently crafted problem, superior depiction of the historical period, and vivid, diverse characters make this a mystery that transcends the genre.
This is the only Cadfael book that I've read (so far), and so my observations are not influenced by other books in the series. From the start, I was drawn in by the convincing evocation of medieval Shrewsbury, a little universe consisting of castle, town, and monastery, and its population of knights, monks, bondsmen, ladies, and Flemish mercenaries. Cadfael, the middle-aged warrior-turned-monastic, with his spiritual outlook and worldly knowledge, is a strong and lovable protagonist. The wily, nonchalant knight Hugh Beringar makes a worthy adversary.
The mystery itself--the "one corpse too many" found among the pile of executed enemies of the king--is actually secondary to the main story of the book: whether Cadfael will succeed in helping a young fugitive, Godric, escape the wrath of the king. The skillful interweaving of these plots, along with not one but two nice little love stories, make this book a refreshing change from the standard mystery. The juxtaposition of spiritual and worldly values is well handled and gives the book a feeling of depth.
Most novels nowadays are too poorly written to be worth finishing. Not this one: Peters's prose style is vivid and clean, comparable to Mary Stewart when she was at the top of her game with her Merlin books. I give it 4 stars out of 5 only because you need somewhere further to go for the truly great works of literature. As far as mysteries go, they don't get better than this.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Cadfael's story continues Aug. 17 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Set against the backdrop of civil war-torn England in 1138, "One Corpse Too Many" is the second book in The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael. Shrewsbury (the home of Cadfael's Abbey) is caught up in the conflict between Empress Maud and King Stephen. The Castle is laid siege to and seized by Stephen. Stephen then executes ninety-four of Maud's supporters in Shrewsbury. Yet, when a count is taken of the bodies, there are ninety-five corpses. Thus the mystery begins--and Cadfael, the monk/herbalist of Shrewsbury springs into action.
I cannot make heads or tales of whether I like "One Corpse Too Many" as much or more than the first book in the series (A Morbid Taste For Bones). Both books are quite good. However, with the exception that they are both mysteries featuring Brother Cadfael, they are quite different. This gives me great hope for the rest of the series. The character of Cadfael is developed successfully and Peters avoids being formulaic.
I missed some of the characters from "A Morbid Taste For Bones" (particularly the pompous presence of Prior Robert). Yet there are some great new characters in book two. My favorites are "the boy Godric" and the wily and resourceful Hugh Beringar. The dual love stories of "One Corpse Too Many" add another dimension to the book.
Cadfael's closing comments (in which the title phrase is used) are well worth the price of the book. All in all, I give "One Corpse Too Many" a heartfelt recommendation.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I will not change my score but... Aug. 16 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I was a little hasty with my review of this particular Cadfael the first time I read it, and feel duty bound to give a better account this time. I still maintain that there is not enough sleuthing for my money in this book, but what I did not appreciate last time was the very skilful manner in which Cadfael pits his wits against the sinister, and extremely intelligent, Hugh Beringar. This book is far more interested in having three main plot lines as opposed to the usual whodunit mentality of the other Cadfaels that deal just with the one main line of enquiry to do with one murder.
I still believe I prefer the straight forward detective approach in Cadfael novels, but I think that Ellis Peters was concerned with writing vaguely the same story over and again and so attempted to branch out from the typical style of story one might expect for a crime novel. I think she should be applauded for this, and although it in some cases this means a weaker end product, I do think it is beneficial to the Cadfael series as a whole.
Whatever the story in a Cadfael novel, we are as always treated to the exciting and enchanting world that Peters has decided to portray. A glimpse of what life may truly have been like in the 12th century, or at least we can believe that some parts of the novel could at least be a little bit historically accurate.
The fun is in accepting that you do not which parts are and so we can allow ourselves the pretence that it is, in fact, all true.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting Mediaeval Whodunit Dec 26 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"One Corpse Too Many" appeared a couple of years after the earlier, 'pilot' book in the Brother Cadfael series. During the intervening period, Ellis Peters (Edith Pargeter) had fleshed out her picture of mediaeval Shrewsbury somewhat - and also clearly formulated a plan for developing her earlier novel into a longer series of stories. This second book skilfully sets the scene and introduces characters for later volumes, so for maximum enjoyment of both this and later volumes, you should read this early in the sequence (indeed, the TV dramatisations of the books features this as the first episode).
The action of this book is set in 1138, during the siege of the castle of Shrewsbury - held by parties loyal to the Empress Maud - by King Stephen, anxious to defend and uphold his claim to the throne of England. As in the previous book, Brother Cadfael's interest lies more in seeing to a successful resolution the personal dramas of those innocents caught within the wider political manoeuvrings, than any pursuit of larger goals. Indeed, his dogged pursuit of the truth and justice for the unidentified and unremarked "extra" corpse amongst those slain on Stephen's orders is just one example of this. Throughout the book, though, the solving of the murder mystery takes second place to his concern for those still living. Indeed, the murder is solved almost along the way, as it were. And not by Cadfael, alone.
As with others in this series, Peters' use of archaic language (both words and phrasing) in her prose and attention to historical detail draw the reader wholly into the picture of mediaeval Britain that she paints. In addition, she has a fine sense of drama, which makes the book hard to put down from the outset. Even when you know the outcome, the tale remains gripping, so even if you've seen the TV dramatisation, this book remains an excellent and exciting read. Its ending is somewhat different (and rather more satisfying) than the TV version, too.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars "We deal with what is"
As complex as any of the Cadfael series, this one tells the story of how Master Hugh Beringar becomes sheriff. Read more
Published 11 months ago by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars for a friend
I didn't read this book. I bought it for a friend who was very pleased to receive it. Specially as I had lost her previous copy. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Betty Ann Rollo
4.0 out of 5 stars Dire times for Shrewsbury
Dire times for Shrewsbury
In this book the second of Ellis Peter's Brother Cadfael series we find Shrewsbury in 1138 in deep trouble. Read more
Published on Aug. 12 2001 by booknblueslady
5.0 out of 5 stars Cadfael Proves He Can Count!
With her first Brother Cadfael novel ("A Morbid Taste for Bones"), English author Ellis Peters introduced us to perhaps, now, the most famous of the medieval "detectives"! Read more
Published on Aug. 22 2000 by Billy J. Hobbs
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the top three Brother Cadfael mysteries.
This is probably my favorite of the "chronicles." I discovered Brother Cadfael through the series on PBS and went to the books out of curiosity. Read more
Published on Jan. 25 1999 by M. Palmer
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading the book benfits viewers of PBS series.
One Corpse Too Many : The Second Chronicle of Brother Cadfael by Ellis Peters After watching a number of the Brother Cadfael episodes on PBS, I was pleased to learn that the... Read more
Published on Jan. 7 1999 by James R. Nuttall
5.0 out of 5 stars One Book Too Great
This is a superb story and Peters is in top form. Peters can get addictive. Peters does use the word CORN, but in the old country CORN refers to grain (see an unabridged... Read more
Published on July 2 1998 by "rhbouchard"
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent ......BUT !!!!
I have wanted to begin the Cadfael series for sometime now. Several things have stopped me over the past few years. Read more
Published on June 10 1998
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