AN EXCELLENT MYSTERY by Ellis Peters
If you’re someone who doesn’t want to start at the beginning of a series and read each book in order, then this is the perfect book for you. It’s XI in The Cadfael Chronicles and stands very well on its own. There’s little in the past books that affects this story so you’re able to enjoy seeing how Brother Cadfael unravels this “excellent mystery” without feeling that pieces to the puzzle are missing.
In just a few short paragraphs Peters is able to transport us to a time long ago – to the summer of 1141. The tranquility of the Abbey at Shrewsbury has not yet been affected by the civil unrest between King Stephen and the Empress Maud. When the Abbey of Hyde Meade is totally destroyed by the warring forces, Brother Humilis, badly injured in the Crusades, and his attendant, the mute Fidelis, seek refuge in Shrewsbury. This pair is soon joined by Nicholas, once squire to Humilis, who seeks the Brother’s blessing to woo the lady who was once Humilis’ intended bride. And there begins the mystery – for the lady has vanished.
Brother Cadfael begins to slowly unravel the truth from the fiction but not before tragedy strikes. With the compassion that seems to come so naturally to him, Cadfael assuages the grief of the victims and shows them a way forward, while still maintaining their deepest secrets.