A new Medieval mystery in the CHRONICLES OF BROTHER CADFAEL series, in which the Benedictine sleuth tackles the problem of a robbery which turns out to involve murder as well.Follows THE SUMMER OF THE DANES.
In the summer of 1144, Geoffrey de Mandeville - after more than a year of running the Fens as his own private robber kingdom - was shot almost by accident during a siege, and died from the infected wound. His lengthy death gave him no chance to receive absolution - only the Pope could have absolved one guilty of the seizure of the abbey of Ramsey - but Geoffrey's followers did what they could for him, restoring the despoiled abbey to its scattered monks. Thus the abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul receives two guests of their own order from Ramsey - grim subprior Herluin and his appealing assistant Tutilo - asking leave to preach. Ramsey needs money, materials, and labour to undo the damage left by Geoffrey's marauders.
Herluin guided their footsteps to Shrewsbury not only to request assistance, but to recall Sulien Blount of Longner, sometime novice of Ramsey, who was sent home to reconsider his vocation. (See _The Potter's Field_ for details.) Cadfael, therefore, accompanies Herluin and his young companion Tutilo to Longner to speak with Sulien - and appeal for the Blounts' generosity toward Ramsey. While Herluin pursues his errand, Cadfael introduces Tutilo to Sulien's dying mother, the formidable Donata, who is more than happy to welcome a bard, even if he's now a novice monk. (Their friendship, brief as it is, is touching.Read more ›
Adding to the story element of mystery and mysticism are some of the rituals utilized by the churchmen to help them in solving the crimes. A particularly engaging episode concerns their random selection of passages from the New Testament to guide them in their quest. Ms. Peters also makes colorful reference to blackthorn leaves in Brother Cadfael's efforts to resolve the mystery.
In "The Holy Thief," the 19th chronicle of Brother Cadfael, Peters continues her top-flight form of the medieval whodunnit and, as usual, her protagonist, the good Benedictine monk, rides to the rescue and solution.
The year is 1144--and still King Stephen and Empress Maud are struggling in an interminable civil war, with no solution in sight. However, that historical fact is mere backdrop--as it usually is--to a more local concern. A renowned earl (Essex) is killed by an arrow, but not before he tries to make amends with Heaven by restoring some of the properties he had earlier "gained." This includes the abbey of Ramsey, a run-down site badly in need of more worldly help. The abbey sends envoys out, and one such envoy arrives in Shrewsbury, at the abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Cadfael's domain. The envoy includes Brother Herluin and his young novice Tutilo, who possesses a great singing voice along with other musical skills. In Shrewsbury is also, as the plot would have it, a beautiful slave girl (also a singer) named Daalny.
Suffice it to say, Peters lays a solid romantic setting. But the rains come, so much so that much of the abbey's possessions, including the holy relics, must be moved to safety. But not so safely after all, as a theft is discovered. And this soon leads to--you have it--a murder.
And Cadfael takes over. Using not only his brilliance, but his skills as the abbey's herbalist, Cadfael wastes no time in carefully solving the crime. Of course, as in all the Cadfael adventures, the murder is solved. The solution rarely comes easily for this ex-crusader, nor should it.Read more ›