One Corpse Too Many (Brother Cadfael Series #2)

One Corpse Too Many (Brother Cadfael Series #2)

by Ellis Peters

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When Shrewsbury Castle falls, Brother Cadfael discovers a murder mystery amid the wreckage

In the summer of 1138, war between King Stephen and the Empress Maud takes Brother Cadfael from the quiet world of his garden into a battlefield of passions, deceptions, and death. Not far from the safety of the abbey walls, Shrewsbury Castle falls, leaving its ninety-four defenders loyal to the empress to hang as traitors. With a heavy heart, Brother Cadfael agrees to bury the dead, only to make a grisly discovery: one extra victim that has been strangled, not hanged.
This ingenious way to dispose of a corpse tells Brother Cadfael that the killer is both clever and ruthless. But one death among so many seems unimportant to all but the good Benedictine. He vows to find the truth behind disparate clues: a girl in boy’s clothing, a missing treasure, and a single broken flower . . . the tiny bit of evidence that Cadfael believes can expose a murderer’s black heart. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780449207024
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/12/1985
Series: Brother Cadfael Series , #2
Pages: 224

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.

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One Corpse Too Many (Brother Cadfael Series #2) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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'! And in her second installment, 'One Corpse Too Many,' we find the erstwhile Benedictine monk up to his neck in another murder mystery, this time involving way too many deaths! In this episode, Brother Cadfael and his beloved Shrewsbury have the unpleasant task of burying the bodies of 94 soldiers, killed as a result of a battle between Stephen and the Empress Maud, both trying to claim the throne of England. In this ugly civil war, we find the countryside constantly in a flux as to which side is which, as this struggle, which lasted for 12 years, seemed to change shapes and sides all too frequently. In this instance, it is Stephen who has won the day. After the hanging of the hold-outs, Brother Cadfael, representing the church and the Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul in Shrewsbury, goes in to arrange for the proper burial of the dead. He is told there were exactly 94 bodies. Instead, he finds an extra one--that of a young man, unidentified, who has had his throat slashed. And Brother Cadfael, over the course of the novel, uses all his God-given talents to solve the mystery. And solve it, of course, he does. He wants not only to identify the young man, but to name the murderer. At the same time, Peters, whose real name is Edith Pargeter, lays the foundation for two of her other recurring characters, Aline and Hugh Beringer (This is a nice romantic touch!). Cadfael, himself, is the herbalist to the abbey and uses that skill to help him solve the murder. He is also able to call upon some of the knowledge he learned during his younger days as a Crusader to the Holy Lands. In all, Peters has created a full-blown medieval character--one who is at once ever the romantic, yet is worldly enough to negotiate the foibles of reality. Peters and Cadfael add up to a great literary combination and their numbers prove it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Katissima on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
All the Brother Cadfael books run together for me. They are the kind of thing I'd pick up in an airport or a train station to read. One Corpse Too Many is the second in the series.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Second Cadfael book and quite an interesting mystery. With the war between King Stephen and Empress Matilda ongoing there was a slaughter of some prisoners and Cadfael is called to minister to 94 corpses but finds 95 which leads Cadfael on a quest that gets more complicated as the story proceeds.
bookwoman247 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the second in the Brother Cadfael Chronicles and the first in the series that I've read.The year is 1138, and war rages between the forces of King Stephen and those of Empress Maud. At Shrewesbury, where Brother Cadfael is living out his vocation is a Benedictine monk and tending to the gardens and herbarium of Shrewesbury Abbey, King Stephen has given the order to hang a number of men who have been condemned to death as traitors.Brother Cadfael has taken on the task of perparing the bodies for Christian burials. When he discovers that there is one more body than there was supposed to be, he also takes on the task of finding finding the murderer.I became so smitten with this book, that I rushed to the library to check out the first in the series.This was an intelligent mystery that was well-articulated, and a real pleasure to read.I intend to eventually read the entire series, in order. I've decided not to devour them all at once, though, but to savor them a bit at a time, and make them last - like the most delicious dessert that you would like to make last forever!
nbmars on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the second book in the Brother Cadfael mystery series, featuring an older Benedictine Monk who retired to the Abbey at Shrewsbury after a wild and eventful youth, and now spends his time peacefully in the Abbey¿s herbarium. Or tries to: it seems there¿s always a murder to be solved in 12th Century England, and Brother Cadfael is the man to do it.This book takes place in the summer of 1138, during the war of succession for the crown of England between King Stephen and his cousin the Empress Maude. King Stephen holds Shrewsbury under siege, and he is seeking followers of his main opponents, William FitzAlan and Fulke Adeney. In particular, he wants to find the only daughter of Adeney - Godith - to hold for ransom in exchange for her father. He suspects she is hiding at the Abbey.Meanwhile, Shrewsbury Castle falls to King Stephen, and the remaining 94 defenders are hanged. Brother Cadfael offers to help bury the bodies, and discovers one extra. Someone apparently tried to cover up a murder by adding an extra body to the pile. Brother Cadfael is determined to get to the bottom of it, and the King agrees. (The characters muse on the topsy-turvy morality of war that allows Stephen to collude in the killing of the 94, but be horrified by the killing of an additional man.)As in the previous book, Brother Cadfael does not let his detective duties deter him from matchmaking. There is a lovely passage when two young people suddenly experience a difference in their regard for one another:"And talk they did¿ Each of them took up the thread from the other, as though handed it in a fixed and formal ceremony, like a favour in a dance. Even their voices had grown somehow alike, as if they matched tones without understanding that they did it. They had not the least idea, as yet, that they were in love.¿¿Ah well,¿ Brother Cadfael muses, ¿these things are for the young.¿ (See my previous review about Brother Cadfael¿s proclivity for fixing up people, in which I give you the lyrics for ¿Hello Young Lovers.¿) These lyrics include the apt stanza:"Don't cry young lovers, whatever you do, Don't cry because I'm alone; All of my memories are happy tonight, I've had a love of my own.I've had a love of my own, like yours- I've had a love of my own."Another wonderful passage in the book is an exchange between Brother Cadfael and Hugh Beringar, one of King Stephen¿s soldiers about to engage in a duel to the death with his enemy, Adam Courcelle. Brother Cadfael asks Hugh if he will spend the night before in prayer:"`I am not such a fool as all that,¿ said Hugh reprovingly, and shook a finger at his friend. `For shame, Cadfael! You go to bed and sleep well, and rise fresh to the trial. And now I suppose you will insist on being my deputy and advocate to heaven?¿`No,¿ said Cadfael grudgingly. `I shall sleep, and get up only when the bell rings for me. Am I to have less faith than an impudent heathen like you?¿"Still, Cadfael worries to himself about the outcome of the duel:"`The trouble with me,¿ he thought unhappily, `is that I have been about the world long enough to know that God¿s plans for us, however infallibly good, may not take the form that we expect and demand. And I find an immense potential for rebellion in this old heart, if God, for no matter what perfect end, choose to take Hugh Beringar out of this world and leave Adam Courcelle in it.¿¿Evaluation: This second book in the Brother Cadfael series is a marked improvement over the first. Characters have more depth, and if the murderer is not so well hidden to readers, the process by which the characters get there is an enjoyable one. And like the first, there are two pairs of lovers that find fulfillment thanks to Brother Cadfael. Sad in a way, but also sweet, and entertaining.
atimco on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One Corpse Too Many is the second chronicle of Brother Cadfael, and, like the first, invokes a fairly authentic picture of life in the Middle Ages. Though the book wasn't gripping and some of the surprises were predictable (on purpose, perhaps), I found it quite enjoyable.In this story, the royal cousins Maud and Stephen are warring for the throne, and England is suffering as castles are stormed and cities taken. Shrewsbury is no exception, and when Stephen takes it he orders that the ninety-four remaining defenders be hanged. After the hangings, Brother Cadfael and some other brothers go to wash and prepare the bodies for identification and burial. But there are ninety-five bodies there, not ninety-four, and that last corpse did not die by hanging. He was strangled, and planted in that deadly heap so that private murder might be covered by the king's sentence. Who was the strangled man, and why was he so stealthily murdered? Cadfael is determined to find out, and launches a discreet investigation. He is aided by Godith Adeney, daughter of the castle's lord, who comes to the abbey dressed as a boy to escape Stephen's search. Together they unravel the threads of the murderer's cord, while trying to keep Godith's identity a secret. But her crafty betrothed, Hugh Beringar, seems to have a good idea of where she is. He doesn't miss a trick, that one, and delivering up Godith to Stephen would seal Beringar's place in court. So why he is playing right into Cadfael's hands? I really liked Hugh Beringar. It was fun to go along, all unwitting, with Peters' careful leading and then have my ideas turned inside-out. Beringar reminds me strongly of Anthony Hope's notorious villain Rupert of Hentzau. He's also a little like Eugenides from Megan Whalen Turner's Attolian series. I really hope that Beringar shows up in later stories, and not just as a cameo!Both this story and the first Cadfael chronicle have two pairs of lovers. I wonder if every story hereafter will feature someone falling in love. It's a common element of Agatha Christie's stories, despite her claim that she disliked adding romance to murder mysteries. I was surprised to notice several comma splices throughout the book. In general Peters seems to be a very proficient writer with good characterizations and descriptive skills, but she certainly had trouble with using semi-colons instead of commas. A good editor should have caught those splices. It's a small point, but it does distract from the story for picky editors like myself. Ah well.Overall, I enjoyed this story quite a bit and once a certain character's true nature was fully revealed, I knew exactly who the murderer was. I won't warn you away from playing along with Peters; I found it more fun to be fooled a little. Maybe that's why I'm reading murder mysteries in the first place! Overall this was a good little mystery enhanced greatly by its medieval setting and memorable hero. Recommended!
MrsLee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of my favorites. Cadfael's principles shine in this book. He won't give up the search for a murderer even though everyone else says it's futile.
Joycepa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
England has suffered through more than one civil war. This entry in the Brother Cadfael series takes place in 1138, when the 2 year old fighting between King Stephen and the Empress Maud has spilled over into the vicinity of Shrewbury. Shrewsbury Castle is held by adherents of Maud. In a final assault, Stephen's troops take the castle along with 94 of its defenders. Two of the three main leaders of the defence, FitzAlan and Adeney, have escaped; the third is hanged along with the 93 other captives.After the mass execution, the Benedictines of Shrewsbury Abbey petition Stephen to allow them to give decent burial to those who have no kin to claim them. Brother Cadfael is among those who retrieve the bodies and prepare them for burial. But at the end of that grim task, Cadfael counts 95 bodies, not 94--there is one corpse too many. And one of the dead was not hanged but strangled--clearly murdered.Peters' writing in this book is more vigorous and more intense as befits the subject. The plotting is very good, just complicated enough to keep the reader guessing. The denoument is absorbing--very well written and interesting in its basis. The overall interest in the story is enhanced by the historical circumstances--the conflict between Sttephen and Maud. The background of the rival claims--and the claimants themselves--is well integrated into the plot and never obtrusive.But Peters' strength in the series is her characterizations. She continues in this book to give us endearing characters, no matter how unpleasant some are. We meet again many of the inhabitants of the Benedictine community introduced in the first book, although in more cameo roles this time. In addition, there are new ones who will recur--Brother Mark, Cadfael's assistant, for example. Others who will play major roles in the series we meet for the first time: Hugh Beringar and Aline Siwald, even Stephen. Those who appear only in this book tend to be more one dimensional although lively enough. All in all, the characters are affectionately drawn and believable enough.A typical Ellis Peters book. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not only a good read, but a good introduction to a wonderful hero.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The movie introduced me to this amazing character. They both added greatly to my understanding of the period. Iam happy to add the Nook edition to my paper copies & movies. Thanks!
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prairie_girl More than 1 year ago
I love the Medieval time period and the Brother Cadfael mystery series. The stories are very entertaining reading.
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