When Herbert Terrell falls off a mountain during a vacation in Czechoslovakia, accidental death is the verdict. Then his step-daughter Tossa receives a note suggesting Terrell was murdered--turning Tossa's long-planned European holiday with college friends into a hunt for the killer.
The year is 1143 and this is the seventeenth chronicle of Brother Cadfael, of the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, at Shrewsbury. Once again, the gentle monk is forced to leave the tranquility of his herb garden and use his knowledge of human nature to solve a murder-this one frighteningly close to home. When a newly plowed field recently given to the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul yields the body of a young woman, Brother Cadfael is quickly thrown into a delicate situation. The field was once owned by a local potter named Ruald who had abandoned his beautiful wife Generys to take monastic vows. Generys was said to have gone away with a lover, but now it seems as if she had been murdered. With the arrival at the Abbey of young Sulien Blount, a novice fleeing homeward from the civil war raging in East Anglia, the mysteries surrounding the corpse start to multiply.
[Back of book] Miss de la Pole drained her glass and rose to set a good example, drawing her black shawl round her shoulders. "He won't do, you know," she said with inexorable gentleness; and having pronounced her oracle, as gently and decidedly withdrew, leaving them room either for comment or for silence. As it turned out, no one had anything to object, or to add. In a whirlwind of activity, wealthy newcomer Arthur Rainbow extravagantly refurbishes the Manor House, joins the Golf Club, Angling Society and Arts Council-and, in a ruthless coup, dislodges the old church organist to take over the position himself. Rainbow was becoming a veritable curse on the sleepy village of Middlehope-until someone pushed him off St. Eata's church tower. The news causes very little surprise or sorrow to the villagers-but much speculation as to who the murderer could be. After all, there are so many candidates-from his young, beautiful, flirtatious wife to the usurped organist and his mutinous choir. It falls upon Superintendent George Felse, newly promoted head of the Midshire CID, to follow the twisted path to Rainbow's end.
(From the book cover) "Brother Cadfael sprang to life suddenly and unexpectedly when he was already approaching sixty, mature, experienced, fully armed and seventeen years tonsured." So writes Ellis Peters in her introduction to A RARE BENEDICTINE-three vintage tales of intrigue and treachery featuring the monastic sleuth who has become the best-loved ecclesiastical detective since Father Brown. Although Cadfael has appeared in eighteen novel-length chronicles to date, the story of his entry into the monastery at Shrewsbury has been known hitherto only to a few readers. Now his myriad fans can discover the chain of events that led him into the Benedictine Order. Adorned with many period illustrations by Clifford Harper, these three tales show Cadfael at the height of his sleuthing form. All the complexities of plot, vividly evoked Shropshire backgrounds, and warm understanding of the frailties of human nature that have made Ellis Peters an international best-seller are here displayed to perfection.
(From the book cover) In a mild December in the year of our Lord 1141, a new priest comes to the parishioners of the Foregate outside the Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Father Ailnoth brings with him a housekeeper and her nephew - and a disposition that invites murder. . . Brother Cadfael quickly sees that Father Ailnoth is a harsh man who, striding along in his black cassock, looks like a doomsaying raven. The housekeeper's nephew, Benet, is quite different- a smiling lad, a hard worker in Cadfael's herb garden, but, as Brother Cadfael soon discovers, an impostor. And when Ailnoth is found drowned, suspicion falls on Benet, though many in the Foregate had cause to want this priest dead. Now Brother Cadfael is gathering clues along with his medicinals to treat a case of unholy passions, tragic politics, and perhaps divine intervention . . .
A late spring in 1142 brings dismay to the Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, for there may be no roses by June 22nd. On that day the young widow Perle must receive one white rose as rent for the house she has given to benefit the abbey or the contract is void. When nature finally complies, a pious monk is sent to pay the rent-and is found murdered beside the hacked rose-bush. The abbey's wise herbalist, Brother Cadfael, follows the trail of bloodied petals. He knows the lovely widow's dowry is far greater with her house included, and she will likely wed again. But before Cadfael can ponder if a greedy suitor has done this dreadful deed, another crime is committed. Now the good monk must thread his way through a tangle more tortuous than the widow's
(From the back cover) In the gentle Shrewsbury spring of 1140, the midnight matins at the Benedictine abbey suddenly reverberate with an unholy sound-a hunt in full cry. Pursued by a drunken mob, the quarry is running for its life. When the frantic creature bursts into the nave to claim sanctuary, Brother Cadfael finds himself fighting off armed townsmen to save a terrified young man. Accused of robbery and murder is Liliwin, a wandering minstrel who performed at the wedding of a local goldsmith's son. The cold light of morning, however, will show his supposed victim, the miserly craftsman, still lives, although a strongbox lies empty. Brother Cadfael believes Liliwin is innocent, but finding the truth and the treasure before Liliwin's respite in sanctuary runs out may uncover a deadlier sin than thievery-a desperate love that nothing, not even the threat of hanging can stop.
When a merchant bound for St. Peter's Fair is found with a slender dagger piercing his heart, Brother Cadfael is on the case. Two murders later, he realizes that no one--least of all the merchant's lovely niece--is safe. "Colorful, convincing details on the workings of a medieval fair". --Kirkus Reviews.
(From the back cover) In the summer of 1144, a strange calm has settled over England. The armies of King Stephen and Empress Maud, the two royal cousins contending for the throne, have temporarily exhausted each other. On the whole, Brother Cadfael considers peace a blessing. Still, a little excitement never comes amiss to a former soldier and Cadfael is delighted to accompany his young friend, Brother Mark, on a mission of church diplomacy to his native Wales. But shortly after their arrival, the two monks are caught up in yet another royal feud. The Welsh prince Owain Gwynedd has banished his brother Cadwaladr, accusing him of the treacherous murder of an ally. The reckless Cadwaladr has retaliated by landing an army of Danish mercenaries, poised to invade Wales and retake his lost lands. As the two armies teeter on the brink of bloody civil war, Cadfael is captured by the Danes. His fellow prisoner is a headstrong young woman fleeing an arranged marriage- or perhaps her involvement in a murder at Owain's camp. But before Cadfael can untangle the passions that led to one death, he has to survive the brotherly quarrel that could plunge an entire kingdom into deadly chaos.
(From the back cover) The winter of 1139 will disrupt Brother Cadfael's tranquil life in Shrewsbury with the most disturbing of events. Raging civil war has sent refugees fleeing north from Worcester. Among them are two orphans from a noble family, a boy of thirteen and an eighteen-year-old girl of great beauty, and their companion, a young Benedictine nun. But the trio, never reaching Shrewsbury, have disappeared somewhere in the wild countryside. Cadfael feels afraid for these three lost lambs, but another call for help sends him to the Church of Saint Mary. A wounded monk, found naked and bleeding by the roadside, will surely die without Cadfael's healing arts. Why this holy man has been attacked and what his fevered ravings reveal soon give Brother Cadfael a clue to the fate of the missing travelers. Now Cadfael sets out on a dangerous quest to find them. The road will lead him to a chill and terrible murder and a tale of passion gone awry. And at journey's end awaits a vision of what is best, and worst, in humankind... in Ellis Peters's most stunning depiction yet of war and love.
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