A Morbid Taste for Bones (Brother Cadfael Series #1)

A Morbid Taste for Bones (Brother Cadfael Series #1)

by Ellis Peters

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The “irresistible” and “compelling” first novel in the historical mystery series featuring a Welsh Benedictine monk in the twelfth century (The Washington Post).

A Welsh Benedictine monk living at Shrewsbury Abbey in western England, Brother Cadfael spends much of his time tending the herbs and vegetables in the garden—but now there’s a more pressing matter. Cadfael is to serve as translator for a group of monks heading to the town of Gwytherin in Wales. The team’s goal is to collect the holy remains of Saint Winifred, which Prior Robert hopes will boost the abbey’s reputation, as well as his own. But when the monks arrive in Gwytherin, the town is divided over the request.

When the leading opponent to disturbing the grave is found shot dead with a mysterious arrow, some believe Saint Winifred herself delivered the deadly blow. Brother Cadfael knows an earthly hand did the deed, but his plan to root out a murderer may dig up more than he can handle.

Before CSI and Law & Order, there was Brother Cadfael, “wily veteran of the Crusades” (Los Angeles Times). His knowledge of herbalism, picked up in the Holy Land, and his skillful observance of human nature are blessings in dire situations, and earned Ellis Peters a Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger Award. A Morbid Taste for Bones kicks off a long-running and much-loved series that went on to be adapted for stage, radio, and television.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781497671058
Publisher: MysteriousPress.com/Open Road
Publication date: 08/05/2014
Series: Brother Cadfael Series , #1
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 207
Sales rank: 20,457
File size: 7 MB

About the Author

Ellis Peters is a pseudonym of Edith Mary Pargeter (1913–1995), a British author whose Chronicles of Brother Cadfael are credited with popularizing the historical mystery. Cadfael, a Welsh Benedictine monk living at Shrewsbury Abbey in the first half of the twelfth century, has been described as combining the curious mind of a scientist with the bravery of a knight-errant. The character has been adapted for television, and the books drew international attention to Shrewsbury and its history.
Pargeter won an Edgar Award in 1963 for Death and the Joyful Woman, and in 1993 she won the Cartier Diamond Dagger, an annual award given by the Crime Writers’ Association of Great Britain. She was appointed officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1994, and in 1999 the British Crime Writers’ Association established the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger award, later called the Ellis Peters Historical Award.
Ellis Peters is a pseudonym of Edith Mary Pargeter (1913–1995), a British author whose Chronicles of Brother Cadfael are credited with popularizing the historical mystery. Cadfael, a Welsh Benedictine monk living at Shrewsbury Abbey in the first half of the twelfth century, has been described as combining the curious mind of a scientist with the bravery of a knight-errant. The character has been adapted for television, and the books drew international attention to Shrewsbury and its history.
Pargeter won an Edgar Award in 1963 for Death and the Joyful Woman, and in 1993 she won the Cartier Diamond Dagger, an annual award given by the Crime Writers’ Association of Great Britain. She was appointed officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1994, and in 1999 the British Crime Writers’ Association established the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger award, later called the Ellis Peters Historical Award.

Read an Excerpt

A Morbid Taste for Bones

The First Chronicle Of Brother Cadfael, Of The Benedictine Abbey Of Saint Peter And Saint Paul, At Shrewsbury

By Ellis Peters


Copyright © 1977 Ellis Peters
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4976-7105-8


On the fine, bright morning in early May when the whole sensational affair of the Gwytherin relics may properly be considered to have begun, Brother Cadfael had been up long before Prime, pricking out cabbage seedlings before the day was aired, and his thoughts were all on birth, growth and fertility, not at all on graves and reliquaries and violent deaths, whether of saints, sinners or ordinary decent, fallible men like himself. Nothing troubled his peace but the necessity to take himself indoors for Mass, and the succeeding half-hour of chapter, which was always liable to stray over by an extra ten minutes. He grudged the time from his more congenial labours out here among the vegetables, but there was no evading his duty. He had, after all, chosen this cloistered life with his eyes open, he could not complain even of those parts of it he found unattractive, when the whole suited him very well, and gave him the kind of satisfaction he felt now, as he straightened his back and looked about him.

He doubted if there was a finer Benedictine garden in the whole kingdom, or one better supplied with herbs both good for spicing meats, and also invaluable as medicine. The main orchards and lands of the Shrewsbury abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul lay on the northern side of the road, outside the monastic enclave, but here, in the enclosed garden within the walls, close to the abbot's fishponds and the brook that worked the abbey mill, Brother Cadfael ruled unchallenged. The herbarium in particular was his kingdom, for he had built it up gradually through the fifteen years of labour, and added to it many exotic plants of his own careful raising, collected in a roving youth that had taken him as far afield as Venice, and Cyprus and the Holy Land. For Brother Cadfael had come late to the monastic life, like a battered ship settling at last for a quiet harbour. He was well aware that in the first years of his vows the novices and lay servants had been wont to point him out to one another with awed whisperings.

"See that brother working in the garden there? The thickset fellow who rolls from one leg to the other like a sailor? You wouldn't think to look at him, would you, that he went on crusade when he was young? He was with Godfrey de Bouillon at Antioch, when the Saracens surrendered it. And he took to the seas as a captain when the king of Jerusalem ruled all the coast of the Holy Land, and served against the corsairs ten years! Hard to believe it now, eh?"

Brother Cadfael himself found nothing strange in his wide-ranging career, and had forgotten nothing and regretted nothing. He saw no contradiction in the delight he had taken in battle and adventure and the keen pleasure he now found in quietude. Spiced, to be truthful, with more than a little mischief when he could get it, as he liked his victuals well-flavoured, but quietude all the same, a ship becalmed and enjoying it. And probably the youngsters who eyed him with such curiosity also whispered that in a life such as he had led there must have been some encounters with women, and not all purely chivalrous, and what sort of grounding was that for the conventual life?

They were right about the women. Quite apart from Richildis, who had not unnaturally tired of waiting for his return after ten years, and married a solid yeoman with good prospects in the shire, and no intention of flying off to the wars, he remembered other ladies, in more lands than one, with whom he had enjoyed encounters pleasurable to both parties, and no harm to either. Bianca, drawing water at the stone well-head in Venice—the Greek boat-girl Arianna—Mariam, the Saracen widow who sold spices and fruit in Antioch, and who found him man enough to replace for a while the man she had lost. The light encounters and the grave, not one of them had left any hard feelings behind. He counted that as achievement enough, and having known them was part of the harmonious balance that made him content now with this harboured, contemplative life, and gave him patience and insight to bear with these cloistered, simple souls who had put on the Benedictine habit as a life's profession, while for him it was a timely retirement. When you have done everything else, perfecting a conventual herb-garden is a fine and satisfying thing to do. He could not conceive of coming to this stasis having done nothing else whatever.

Five minutes more, and he must go and wash his hands and repair to the church for Mass. He used the respite to walk the length of his pale-flowered, fragrant inner kingdom, where Brother John and Brother Columbanus, two youngsters barely a year tonsured, were busy weeding and edge-trimming. Glossy and dim, oiled and furry, the leaves tendered every possible variation on green. The flowers were mostly shy, small, almost furtive, in soft, sidelong colours, lilacs and shadowy blues and diminutive yellows, for they were the unimportant and unwanted part, but for ensuring seed to follow. Rue, sage, rosemary, gilvers, gromwell, ginger, mint, thyme, columbine, herb of grace, savoury, mustard, every manner of herb grew here, fennel, tansy, basil and dill, parsley, chervil and marjoram. He had taught the uses even of the unfamiliar to all his assistants, and made plain their dangers, too, for the benefit of herbs is in their right proportion, and over-dosage can be worse than the disease. Small of habit, modest of tint, close-growing and shy, his herbs called attention to themselves only by their disseminated sweetness as the sun rose on them. But behind their shrinking ranks rose others taller and more clamorous, banks of peonies grown for their spiced seeds, and lofty, pale-leaved, budding poppies, as yet barely showing the white or purple-black petals through their close armour. They stood as tall as a short man, and their home was the eastern part of the middle sea, and from that far place Cadfael had brought their ancestors in the seed long ago, and raised and cross-bred them in his own garden, before ever he brought the perfected progeny here with him to make medicines against pain, the chief enemy of man. Pain, and the absence of sleep, which is the most beneficent remedy for pain.

The two young men, with habits kilted to the knee, were just straightening their backs and dusting the soil from their hands, as well aware as he of the hour. Brother Columbanus would not for the world have let slip one grain of his duties, or countenanced such a backsliding in any of his fellows. A very comely, well-made, upstanding young fellow he was, with a round, formidable, Norman head, as he came from a formidable, aristocratic Norman family, a younger son despatched to make his way in the monastic ranks as next-best to inheriting the land. He had stiff, upstanding yellow hair and full blue eyes, and his modest demeanour and withdrawn pallor tended to obscure the muscular force of his build. Not a very comfortable colleague, Brother Columbanus, for in spite of his admirable body equipment he had some while since proved that he had a mental structure of alarming sensitivity, and was liable to fits of emotional stress, crises of conscience, and apocalyptic visions far removed from the implications of his solid skull. But he was young and idealistic, he had time to get over his self-torments. Brother Cadfael had worked with him for some months, and had every hope for him. He was willing, energetic, and almost too eager to please. Possibly he felt his debt to his aristocratic house too nearly, and feared a failure that would reflect on his kin. You cannot be of high Norman blood, and not excel! Brother Cadfael felt for any such victims as found themselves in this trap, coming as he did, of antique Welsh stock without superhuman pretensions. So he tolerated Brother Columbanus with equanimity, and doctored his occasional excesses philosophically. The juice of the paynim poppies had quieted Columbanus more than once when his religious fervour prostrated him.

Well, at any rate there was no nonsense of that kind with the other one! Brother John was as plain and practical as his name, a square young man with a snub nose and an untamable ring of wiry russet curls round his tonsure. He was always hungry, and his chief interest in all things that grew in gardens was whether they were eatable, and of agreeable flavour. Come autumn he would certainly find a way of working his passage into the orchards. Just now he was content to help Brother Cadfael prick out early lettuces, and wait for the soft fruits to come into season. He was a handsome, lusty, good-natured soul, who seemed to have blundered into this enclosed life by some incomprehensible error, and not yet to have realised that he had come to the wrong place. Brother Cadfael detected a lively sense of mischief the fellow to his own, but never yet given its head in a wider world, and confidently expected that some day this particular red-crested bird would certainly fly. Meantime, he got his entertainment wherever it offered, and found it sometimes in unexpected places.

"I must be in good tune," he said, unkilting his gown and dusting his hands cheerfully on his seat. "I'm reader this week." So he was, Cadfael recalled, and however dull the passages they chose for him in the refectory, and innocuous the saints and martyrs he would have to celebrate at chapter, John would contrive to imbue them with drama and gusto from his own sources. Give him the beheading of Saint John the Baptist, and he would shake the foundations.

"You read for the glory of God and the saints, brother," Columbanus reminded him, with loving reproof and somewhat offensive humility, "not for your own!" Which showed either how little he knew about it, or how false he could be, one or the other.

"The blessed thought is ever in my mind," said Brother John with irrepressible zest, and winked at Cadfael behind his colleague's back, and set off enthusiastically along the aisles of shrubs towards the abbot's gate and the great court. They followed him more demurely, the slender, fair, agile youth and the squat, barrel-chested, bandy-legged veteran of fifty-seven. Was I ever, wondered Cadfael, rolling with his powerful seaman's gait beside the other's long, supple strides, as young and earnest as this? It cost him an effort to recall that Columbanus was actually fully twenty-five, and the sprig of a sophisticated and ambitious house. Whose fortunes, surely, were not founded wholly on piety?

This third Mass of the day was non-parochial and brief, and after it the Benedictine brothers of the abbey of Shrewsbury filed in procession from the choir into the chapter-house, and made their way to their stalls in due order, Abbot Heribert leading. The abbott was old, of mild nature and pliant, a gentle grey ascetic very wishful of peace and harmony around him. His figure was unimpressive, though his face was beguiling in its anxious sweetness. Novices and pupils were easy in his presence, when they could reach it, which was by no means always easy, for the extremely impressive figure of Prior Robert was liable to loom between.

Prior Robert Pennant of mixed Welsh and English blood, was more than six feet tall, attenuated and graceful, silver-grey hair at fifty, blanched and beautiful of visage, with long, aristocratic features and lofty marble brow. There was no man in the midland shires would look more splendid in a mitre, superhuman in height and authority, and there was no man in England better aware of it, or more determined to prove it at the earliest opportunity. His very motions, sweeping across the chapter-house to his stall, understudied the pontificate.

After him came Brother Richard the sub-prior, his antithesis, large, ungainly, amiable and benevolent, of a good mind, but mentally lazy. Doubtful if he would ever become prior when Robert achieved his end, with so many ambitious and industrious younger men eyeing the prospect of advancement, and willing to go to a great deal of trouble to secure it.

After Richard came all the other brothers in their hierarchies. Brother Benedict the sacristan, Brother Anselm the precentor, Brother Matthew the cellarer, Brother Dennis the hospitaller, Brother Edmund the infirmarer, Brother Oswald the almoner, Brother Jerome, the prior's clerk, and Brother Paul, master of the novices, followed by the commonalty of the convent, and a very flourishing number they made. Among the last of them Brother Cadfael rolled to his own chosen corner, well to the rear and poorly lit, half-concealed behind one of the stone pillars. Since he held no troublesome parchment office, he was unlikely to be called upon to speak in chapter upon the various businesses of the house, and when the matter in hand was dull into the bargain it was his habit to employ the time to good account by sleeping, which from long usage he could do bolt upright and undetected in his shadowy corner. He had a sixth sense which alerted him at need, and brought him awake instantly and plausibly. He had even been known to answer a question pat, when it was certain he had been asleep when it was put to him.

On this particular May morning he remained awake long enough to enjoy Brother John's extraction of the last improbable ounce of drama from the life of some obscure saint whose day fell on the morrow, but when the cellarer began to expound a complicated matter of a legacy partly to the altar of Our Lady, partly to the infirmary, he composed himself to slumber. After all, he knew that most of the remaining time, once a couple of minor malefactors had been dealt with, would be given to Prior Robert's campaign to secure the relics and patronage of a powerful saint for the monastery. For the past few months very little else had been discussed. The prior had had it on his mind, in fact, ever since the Cluniac house of Wenlock had rediscovered, with great pride and jubilation, the tomb of their original foundress, Saint Milburga, and installed her bones triumphantly on their altar. An alien priory, only a few miles distant, with its own miracle-working saint, and the great Benedictine house of Shrewsbury as empty of relics as a plundered almsbox! It was more than Prior Robert could stomach. He had been scouring the borderlands for a spare saint now for a year or more, looking hopefully towards Wales, where it was well known that holy men and women had been common as mushrooms in autumn in the past, and as little regarded. Brother Cadfael had no wish to hear the latest of his complaints and urgings. He slept.

The heat of the sun rebounded from honed new facets of pale, baked rock, scorching his face, as the floating arid dust burned his throat. From where he crouched with his fellows in cover he could see the long crest of the wall, and the steel-capped heads of the guards on the turrets glittering in the fierce light. A landscape carved out of reddish stone and fire, all deep gullies and sheer cliffs, with never a cool green leaf to temper it, and before him the object of all his journeyings, the holy city of Jerusalem, crowned with towers and domes within its white walls. The dust of battle hung in the air, dimming the clarity of battlement and gate, and the hoarse shouting and clashing of armour filled his ears. He was waiting for the trumpet to sound the final assault, and keeping well in cover while he waited, for he had learned to respect the range of the short, curly Saracen bow. He saw the banners surge forward out of hiding, streaming on the burning wind. He saw the flash of the raised trumpet, and braced himself for the blare.

The sound that brought him leaping wide-awake out of his dream was loud enough and stirring enough, but not the brazen blast of a trumpet, nor was he launched from his stillness towards the triumphant storming of Jerusalem. He was back in his stall in the dark corner of the chapter-house, and starting to his feet as alertly as the rest, and with the same consternation and alarm. And the shriek that had awakened him was just subsiding into a series of rending moans and broken cries that might have been of extreme pain or extreme ecstasy. In the open space in the centre of the chapter-house Brother Columbanus lay on his face, threshing and jerking like a landed fish, beating his forehead and his palms against the flagstones, kicking and flailing with long, pale legs bared to the knee by his contortions, and barking out of him those extraordinary sounds of shattering physical excitement, while the nearest of the brothers hovered in helpless shock, and Prior Robert with lifted hands exhorted and exclaimed.


Excerpted from A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters. Copyright © 1977 Ellis Peters. Excerpted by permission of MysteriousPress.com.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Morbid Taste for Bones 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Kimi_and_Stevies_Mom More than 1 year ago
This first book involves Brother Cadfael's Abbey wanting to obtain the relics of a saint so that they can achieve greater fame, thus inducing more pilgrims to come, thus giving the Abbey more revenue. Not that Cadfael cares, but there are others in the Abbey who would like to achieve this outcome. And soon enough there is a murder that Cadfael must solve. I recommend all readers try and read these books in order as the characters become more developed as the series progresses. These are fun and easy reads and I am sure you will get hooked as I did.
Bill-D More than 1 year ago
A fascinating look into the past. Great characters living their lives in moments of stress. The descriptions ring real and the characters could be you. Extremely well written, it is not for those too lazy or unable to understand writing above today's writers. The language is beautiful. I loved this series. The PBS movies based on it are also good but not quite as rich as the books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been interested in the Brother Cadfael series since I saw one of the stories turned into a TV show. The premise seemed interesting, and the character seemed interesting, too. Being who I am, I didn't act on this interest for a long time, as other interests took priority. A few months ago, however, I picked up another medieval murder mystery novel and enjoyed it, so I figured it was time to dive into this series, starting with the initial book. The story is fairly short, coming in at under 200 pages. That seems a little stingy for a $7 book, especially when you can get books three times the size for the same price. But it is a good 200 pages that you get, so it would be wrong to make too much of an issue over the page count. The basic story involves Brother Cadfael's Abbey's quest to obtain the relics of a saint so that they can achieve greater fame in the world. Not that Cadfael care, of course, but there are others in the Abbey who would achieve considerable fame in the course of such a venture. Sure enough, a target is soon found, and a contingent of monks head off to get the bones of a saint from Wales and bring them back to England. The locals aren't too fond of the idea, of course, and soon enough there has been a murder that Cadfael must solve. I must say that the author does a great job of pacing things out. There is plenty of time for all of the main actors to get introduced, and then things move along in due course. There is also a nice plot twist at the end. It was hinted at, so it didn't catch me off guard, but it was a nice twist to the story. Overall, an enjoyable read, if not the greatest thing ever.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read all 21 Brother Cadfeal mysteries. Some of them more than once. Superb! Settings, beliefs, etc. true to period. Stories and characters plausible, suspenseful, engaging, funny, touching, very entertaining. Hard to find a story you can get so lost in that you lose track of time and so entertaining that you don't care. Ellis Peters has done this with all 21 Brother Cadfeal stories. REALLY wish there'd been more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While being a great mystery series, it has sparked my interest in Welsh history. So glad that I found brother Cadfael.
Teddyra More than 1 year ago
As usual Ellis Peters makes it interesting from beginning to end. Had read all the Cadfael books except this one. Enjoyed them all!
themerrywindchime More than 1 year ago
I have read the first three of the Cadfael books by Ellis Peters now. I like the Medieval period in which the stories take place. The author is very clever at setting her narrative hook. I will continue reading these books and recommend them to others.
justchris on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters is the first of a long series of Brother Cadfael mysteries. I have watched many televised episodes, in no particular order, and enjoyed them a great deal. Of course, I am generally a fan of BBC and most of my limited viewing time is devoted to British productions.In this story, the ambitious members of Brother Cadfael's monastery decide to appropriate an obscure Welsh saint for the benefits that miracles and pilgrims can bring. Brother Cadfael, with his Welsh background and language skills joins the expedition over the border to translate the saint's bones. Not surprisingly, the local villagers are not pleased with the idea, and the most outspoken opponent turns up dead. In this story, Brother Cadfael relies on basic forensics observations rather than his extensive herbal and botanical knowledge to investigate the murder, though the book clearly lays out his personality and background.It was a charming story that brought the era to life and highlighted the differences between Wales and England. It also gives insights into monastic life, which must seem quite alien to most modern readers. The characters were sympathetically drawn though without much depth. The dialogue was good, the narrative was in reasonable proportion, and the plot was moderately interesting if generally predictable. And of course, the poetic justice was lovely.
ragwaine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good writing, good characters, decent mystery. Kinda slow, it could have ended at about 17 places in the last 2 chapters but it just kept going.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first Cadfael story, and I have a sneaking suspicion I saw the tv version first. Cadfael is sent with some other monks to recover the body of a saint to enhance the Benedectine Monastery of Shrewsbury. The people where the saint is don't really want to release her and when one of the villagers is found dead suspicion is thrown on the monks, Cadfael has to investigate.The Carlton Video starring Derek Jacobi follows the book quite well.
atimco on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At last I've started the Brother Cadfael mysteries, after several friends recommended the books for quite some time. I enjoyed this story and I'll certainly be looking for the rest of the series. Brother Cadfael is an old Welsh adventurer, who has joined the Benedictine order as a retirement rather than for religious reasons. He is quite worldy-wise and astute about the motivations of others, and he observes his spiritual brothers with interest. I found him a little too cynically modern in his thinking, a little too easy to relate to ¿ but I suppose it would be difficult for modern readers to really identify with a zealously strict monk. In this first story, Brother Cadfael joins a party from his monastery that is going in search of a saint's relics to boost its monastery's importance among the religious orders. Everyone around this time was relic-crazy, with bones and body parts of saints performing great miracles (or so everyone said) for the faithful. Prior Robert, who is leading their group, has set his sights on Saint Winifred, a centuries-old saint of a small village in Wales. The people of the village don't want the monks to take her away, and one man in particular, Rhisiart, leads the movement against the monk's mission. When he is found murdered with an arrow through his chest, the resistance collapses. Prior Robert claims that it's saintly vengeance for Rhisiart's opposition to the monks. But Brother Cadfael knows better ¿ who really killed Rhisiart?Brother Cadfael begins his own investigations, aided by the dead man's daughter Sioned. The story has a good dash of humor, especially with the earthy, young Brother John, and there is also a bit of the supernatural. Of course a lot of it is just the ready ambition and competition of the monks, but not everything is so neatly explained. I like that... so much in religious experience is overblown and unreal, but not all of it. And there are some good insights about religion and psychology. My favorite line: "It's a kind of arrogance to be so certain you're past redemption."Peters gives plenty of hints about Brother Cadfael's varied past, and it will be interesting to see how these things pop up in later stories. Though the mystery is nothing earth-shattering, it's fairly well-written, and the characters are interesting. Enjoyable and light.
ukforever on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this first chronicle of Brother Cadfael, the medieval monk and amateur sleuth, Peters takes us along as the Benedictine brothers travel to a small Welsh village in order to claim the relics of a neglected saint as their own. But when the community's most outspoken opponent of the relocation is murdered, Cadfael sets out to discover the killer and ends up becoming involved in the miracles attendant upon the saint. A wonderful, short mystery that has become a classic in the genre. The television adaptation starring Derek Jacobi is also highly recommended.
seoulful on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this First Chronicle of Brother Cadfael of the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul at Shrewsbury we journey with Brother Cadfael and a retinue from the abbey to Gwytherin, Wales to recover the bones of St. Winifred from her resting place in a small cemetery in Gwytherin and transport her to grace the grand altar at Shrewsbury. We witness the clash of two cultures as the patrician Norman, Prior Robert of Shrewsbury, who thinks in terms of heirarchies and Rhisiart, the landholder of Gwytherin who thinks in terms of blood ties battle over the right to St. Winifred's bones. Prior Robert, who comes with the blessing and authority of church and state and with an overbearing arrogance has little to say to a culture which looks upon itself as kinship members, with different places but not inferior one to the other. Brother Cadfael, a native of Wales, is in the thick of the arguments and resulting murders with his empathetic outlook and his knowledge of the language and culture. A surprise ending which will be alluded to and cause unease to Cadfael in succeeding books of this very engaging series of medieval mystery by a master storyteller.
elwyne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Loved it! A good mystery, with some nice twists and turns. Good, interesting, likable - and unlikable - characters. Cadfael himself is interesting and enjoyable enough that I look forward to reading many more of his adventures. Great sense of humor in him. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good "popcorn" mystery - not much substance but tons of fun. :)
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Brother Cadfael, the sleuth in this book, is a monk in the Benedictine Order in the 12th Century during the struggle for the throne between King Stephen and Empress Maud and the history of the time is skillfully woven into the tales. I recommend not just this book but the entire series--they're favorites of mine. Good comfort reads for when you want to immerse yourself in another world with a characters you think of as friends, and there's usually an element of romance. I've seen Cadfael compared to Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet in his attempts to aid lovers, only he's wiser, smarter and more successful. I think each novel could be read on its own, and isn't dependent on the earlier ones, but I think you do enjoy it more when you read it from the beginning, because there is also an underlying arc to the series, such as the friendship between Cadfael and the sheriff Hugh Beringar (Who first appears in One Corpse Too Many. I liked the ending in particular in this--justice done with a light touch. A good read and a strong opening for the series.
marsap on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Morbid Taste for Bones is the first Brother Cadfael mystery. When a fellow monk by the name of Brother Columbanus falls ill, he¿s taken in a pilgrimage to St Winifred¿s Well in North Wales and returns cured. The cure is attributed to St Winifred. Prior Robert, Cadfael (needed to translate) and a small party travel to the village of Gwytherin in Wales to claim the saint¿s relics; against the will of the local community. Tempers rise, and murder is the result. It¿s up to Brother Cadfael and to Sioned, a local young woman, to find out what really happened. This book is a fun read--things move along quickly. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
MrsLee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A favorite, this gives a lot of explanation of Cadfael's faith and truth vs. religiosity.
maryanntherese on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An entertaining mystery with a good plot and characters. I would like it better if Cadfael was actually a faithful Catholic instead of a moral relativist.
Joycepa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first in the Brother Cadfael series.We're in 12th century England near the Welsh border at Shrewbury, the site of the Benedictine Abbey of Sts. Peter and Paul. Brother Cadfael at 57 has had his share of worldly adventures as part of the First Crusade fighting in the Holy land; he has also had his share of experiences with women, which he remembers with affection. For the past 15 years, he has been a contented member of the Benedictine community, his major responsibility being the abbey garden, especially the medicinal herbs.No organization is immune from politics and its ambitious practitioners, least of all the Catholic Church. The prior of Shrewsbury Abbey, Prior Robert, is a descendant of the Norman conquerors, and while he may have given up lordship over a secular domain, he definitely aspires to rise to the top within the Church. Thus he chafes under the galling lack of a saint's relics at the abbey, diminishing the abbey's (and therefore his) reputation. Prior Robert launches a campaign to transfer the bones of St. Winifred, a little-known virgin Welsh saint from their resting place in Wales to Sts. Peter and Paul.The Welsh community is NOT amused, and the opposition is led by a prominent Welsh landowner who is soon found murdered.The plot is excellent, given the era in which the story is set. Peters draws the characters--all of them, including the haughty Prior Robert--with great affection. She has a wonderful ability to put us right in the time and the location.The climax of the story is very well done and Brother Cadfael's solution to the resulting problem a stroke of genius; the humor and irony are exquisite.It may be a murder mystery, but Peters writes with great gentleness, humor, and fondness for the period. Brother Cadfael is one of the most endearing "detectives" of the genre.Highly recommended.
maita on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A man is stuck down by an arrow and people take it as a sign that a saint is angry. Brother Cadfael knows this to be the work of a mortal, a work of hate rather than heavenly vengeance. I love the book. There is a bit of humor in Cadfael. Medeival life has more to it than blunt killings and crude farm works. The human mind is as complex in murdering as the present day criminals.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An excellent series from the first book to the last. Brother Cadfael is a wonderful character with real people and real places. I wish there were more.
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