I don’t know that I’ve ever used the word delightful before (think I sang it once though; something about skyrockets & afternoons) but that’s what this book is…delightful! A medieval mystery with a monk as the sleuth…what fun!
Brother Cadfael had seen a lot of the world before he entered the monastery; he’d fought in the Crusades and had been a sea captain; now he loved working in his herb garden and concocting healing tonics & unguents to benefit the brethren. Though many had exclaimed on his midlife metamorphosis, “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.”
But his calm was disrupted when he was sent, as the only Welsh-speaking Brother, to Wales with a delegate tasked with relocating a relic of an obscure and long-neglected saint that the arrogant Prior of the Abbey at Shrewsbury wished to acquire in order to raise the Abbey’s status, which had no such attraction. A problem arose, however, when the group reached the village that harbored the saint to discover that the village folk didn’t believe their saint to be in need of rescue and had no desire for her remains to be disinterred and transported to England. In the midst of the controversy the most outspoken and powerful of the men resisting the Church’s mission was found dead in the forest, murdered. An innocent man was immediately accused, and it was up to the worldly-wise Brother Cadfael to get to the bottom of things.
This is the first of twenty books in this highly regarded series which began in 1977, written by Dame Edith Pargeter using the nom du plume Ellis Peters. Her Cadfael Chronicles are credited with popularizing what would become known in time as the historical mystery genre.