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The Raven in the Foregate (Brother Cadfael Mysteries) [Mass Market Paperback]

Ellis Peters
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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4.0 out of 5 stars Another Pleasant Tale Feb. 1 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"Pleasant" is a good way to describe the Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters. These romanticised renderings of life in twelfth century England, however unreal, make the era seem pleasant enough that you almost want to live there. The countryside is lovely, there is usually a hint of romance in the air, and life moves at a measured, unrushed pace. No pavement, no pollution, no hustle and bustle. Seldom mentioned are the poverty, hunger, disease, and general stench (people rarely bathed). Life, especially in the cloister, is a bucolic idyll.
In "A Raven In The Foregate", Abbot Radulfus returns from a church council with a new priest for the Foregate. Father Adam having recently died, Radulfus brings back Father Ailnoth at the recommendation of Bishop Henry. Ailnoth, however, turns out to be a harsh and stiff-necked young priest and manages to alienate his flock before turning up dead on Christmas morning. There are plenty of suspects, not the least of whom is young Benet, nephew of Ailnoth's housekeeper.
With plenty of potential suspects, this would seem to be an intricate and challenging mystery, but ultimately the plot is not as involved as one might wish. The outcome is a happy one, if a bit too neat and satisfactory for everyone involved, but not too hard to see coming.
Like most of the books in this series, "A Raven In The Foregate" is only an average mystery. What makes this and the other Cadfael tales enjoyable is the pleasant world Peters creates and the idyllic, unhurried way in which she tells the tale. These are nice books to read and, on the strength of that I recommend them, especially to those who like a bit of history and romance along with their whodunits.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Red herrings in and without the Foregate Aug. 23 1998
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The mystery is a bit trite and too neatly wrapped up at the end, but this remains a good read because of Peter's strong characters and setting and great metaphysical questioning.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A cat among the pigeons March 3 2006
By Beverley Strong - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Just prior to Christmas,1141, a new priest is appointed to the parish church of Holy Cross...also known as the Abbey of St.Peter and St.Paul. Father Adam, the easy going, genial and forgiving priest who had cared for his flock for many years, has died and the charge of filling his shoes falls to the brothers of the Abbey. The Abbot has selected a well educated, former secretary to the Papal legate as a worthy candidate, not realising that an able administrator does not necessarily make a compassionate and understanding priest. Father Ailnoth immediately alienates his parishioners with his harsh, unforgiving rule, severely ruffling the feathers of servants and free men alike, so when his body is found, floating in the river, Sheriff Hugh Beringar finds a wall of silence surrounding the apparent murder. Suspicion falls on Cadfael's new garden helper, Benet who came to the town as a nephew to Father Ailnoth's housekeeper. As usual, Cadfael and Hugh solve the not so difficult mystery and, as usual, the setting for the story is what makes it so appealing. Despite the changes in the surroundings and circumstances of today, the people of nine centuries past, are just the same as the people of today, with their jealousies, faults and squabbles.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The canon keeps on keeping on Dec 28 2008
By David Wilkin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The prose of Ellis Peters is phenomenal in it's own way. This time out the mystery has clues and red herrings a plenty, with the background of the civil war still thrown in to keep us entertained. A much better addition to the canon then some of the other previous ones of late.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mystery at Holy Cross May 20 2005
By RCM - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the first book that I have read of the Brother Cadfael Mysteries. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I was drawn into the world of medieval England that Peters brings to life. "The Raven in the Foregate" is a quick read, entertaining and mysterious to the fact that there is not much mystery to the case at hand.

As usual, Brother Cadfael is drawn into the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the newly instituted priest of Holy Cross, Father Ailnoth. While he was alive, Ailnoth was quick to make enemies in the church and in the community; many are glad to see him dead, and many are content to hold their tongues as to the truth of what caused his death on Christmas Eve. Complicating matters are the search for a French renegade who was undercover at Holy Cross in the guise of the nephew of Father Ailnoth's housekeeper. Brother Cadfael must piece together the scant clues and abounding rumors to uncover the truth of Ailnoth's death.

"The Raven in the Foregate" is a well-written mystery, although at times too tidy and predictable. It was a true delight to enter into the world of Holy Cross and medieval England that Peters has crafted throughout her Cadfael mystery series. I look forward to reading the other books in the series.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Human frailties and human strengths Nov. 16 2012
By Nina M. Osier - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The parish church of Holy Cross, within the Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul, awaits its new priest after years under the same man's benevolent pastoral care. Abbot Radulphus appoints Father Alinoth, an outstanding clerk to the bishop, to the parish. No one is more surprised or dismayed than Radulphus when Father Alinoth quickly earns his people's dislike, and then their outright enmity. For Alinoth is a man of total correctness, complete honesty - and no human compassion whatsoever. He strikes noisy children with his staff, he refuses to suspend his devotions to baptise a dying newborn, and he refuses confession and absolution to a young woman who is - in Father Alinoth's opinion - incapable of true repentance, and therefore undeserving of the Church's mercy. When the young woman drowns herself and thus leaves her new baby without a mother, even those members of the community who disapproved of her find Alinoth's rigidity appalling. So no one feels inclined toward mourning when, on Christmas morning, Father Alinoth is discovered dead. Floating in the half frozen mill pond - was it an accident, or did someone strike him and push him in? Brother Cadfael discovers a head wound that makes the latter theory all too plausible.

This book's examination of human frailties and human strengths is first rate. None of the characters, Alinoth included, is left without sympathy (even empathy) in the reader's mind; and the ending, when it comes with a characteristic twist, works beautifully. One of the best Brother Cadfael books that I've read.

--Reviewed by Nina M. Osier, author of 2005 science fiction EPPIE winner "Regs"
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Red herrings in and without the Foregate Aug. 23 1998
By "rhbouchard" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The mystery is a bit trite and too neatly wrapped up at the end, but this remains a good read because of Peter's strong characters and setting and great metaphysical questioning.
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