It is not the summer of his discontent, washed by the sun of Yorke; however, it is the season for another Cadfael adventure and mystery! And Ellis Peters, in her usual intriguing way, presents us with her 18th Brother Cadfael episode in "The Summer of the Danes."
The year is 1144--the civil war between King Stephen and Empress Maud still rages on--and Brother Cadfael is called upon to be an interpreter to the Welsh village of Saint Asaph. Cadfael is Welsh born and he welcomes the journey to his homeland as a pleasant break from his duties as a brother at the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Shrewsbury.
As it turns out--and naturally, as this is an Ellis Peters mystery!--a Danish fleet is sighted along the coast of Wales, a real menace, indeed. Then a young girl goes missing. Then a body is found. And Cadfael is off and running.
So is the reader! Having read all the Brother Cadfael series, I found this to be one of my favorites. Peters wastes no time in developing her story and does not hesitate to flavor her plot with plenty of Welsh history and lore. Will the Danes invade? Will the murderer be brought to justice? Cadfael's expertise, once again, proves to be essential in the resolution of the crimes.
Cadfael is the former crusader now turned monk who, while not solving murder cases, works as the Abbey's herbalist and is known throughout the area for his skills in medicine. The "Sunday Express" writes: "Cadfael...springs to life in her books, which are novels with depth. He is a man of warmth, humanity and engaging nosiness."
Do not be misled by the British TV series of the Cadfael stories. While on the surface they are quite adequate (Derek Jacobi is an ideal Cadfael), the 50-minute recounting of any of Peters' books does not do justice to the novel, which is a pity, for there are great gaps of (mis)understanding that simply cannot be supplied in such short time. Stay with the books! They are well-worth the read. Cadfael is a character worth knowing!