©1980 Ellis Peters; (P)1991 Recorded Books, LLC
"Pure pleasure ... Peters' stories have everything - colorful monks, touching young love, marvelous atmosphere, a fascinating and complex detective, and most important of all, ingenious puzzles." (The Armchair Detective)
It is true that I know only what I have read in books. But I have read a great many books. ("Venetia" by Georgette Heyer)
The early books (at least chronicles 1-5) in the Brother Cadfael series are a must for anyone who enjoys historical murder mysteries. Indeed, Ellis Peters pioneered the genre, now littered with many such series covering almost all periods of history and just about every continent (no Antarctic sleuths yet, that I know of).
I think Monk's Hood, the "third chronicle," is the book in which this series really hit its stride. The mystery itself is sound and has a unique resolution that may sadden some. The revelations from Cadfael's past expand the hero's character, and the "monastic politics," as exemplified by Prior Robert and his lackey Brother Jerome, lend spice to the action.
I decided to try the Patrick Tull narration for this one. I've listened to a couple of the books read by Stephen Thorne, who I find to be competent but dull, and one by Derick Jacobi, whose voice for some reason seems wrong (it's probably me, I'm afraid Sir Derick will never be anyone but Emperor Claudius to me). I wavered between finding Tull's delivery painfully slow (his renditions of any book are always much longer than other readers' presentations of the same material) and thinking it eminently suitable to the setting and character of the story. I'll have to give Johanna Ward a try next.
I'm not sure whether the number of "Caedfaelic" narrators available to choose from is a testament to the enduring popularity of this series or to liberal copyright availability; probably a bit of both, and it's nice to have the variety.
In Monk's Hood, someone is poisoned by the misuse of one of Brother Cadfael???s preparations, so our medieval detective is well-motivated to find out who. Cadfael is a bit handicapped by not having Hugh Beringar in charge of the investigation, by Prior Robert being in charge of the abbey in the abbot's absence, and we get to enjoy the fun, including listening to one of Brother Jerome???s smarmiest, most unctuous little speeches, this time directed toward Cadfael. Personally, I wanted to go kick the weaselly Jerome (and I apologize to the four-footed furbearing animal!) right in the butt. Differences between English and Welsh law and customs are a significant part of the story.
I had forgotten how good the story is, and Patrick Tull has now become my favorite narrator of the Cadfael chronicles.
Have re-discovered "quality time." Evenings listening to good books have replaced mindless tv watching. What a difference!
It is one of the best historical mystery series (in general) that I know of. This particular book is one of the best so far. First in series I've listened to. I've read some, and watched many on TV--with Derek Jacobi playing the part of Cadfael. Any way I encounter this series I have loved. But this is the first time I've heard it read. And I'd like to say that the narrator was wonderful. I believe a different reader could have spoiled the entire experience. Characters are well-drawn, by the end of the book I felt as if they were each a clear individual--with his/her own place in the twelfth century world of England & Wales (set in and near Shrewsbury Abbey).
Well, Cadfael is always my favorite--he is rich with his own history of having lived in the secular world--indeed even having fought in the Crusades--before becoming a monk. So he is gifted with uncommon insight into the minds and hearts of people, and uses that ability to sleuth the crimes. In this book, his compassion in one part of the book, toward the end, probably is what makes this book so outstanding.
All of them. Patrick Tull was the perfect narrator. I especially loved his rendition of Cadfael himself. But he makes each person have a unique (and memorable) voice.
Yes, one scene toward the end, in which Cadfael sensitively works to resolve the crime in a surprising manner.
The series is wonderful, this reading of this book is one I'd listen to again, just because I so enjoyed the narration (and I rarely re-read mysteries).
The story connects you with the characters and Patrick Tull has the perfect voice for Cadfael.
The description of England in the Middle Ages is excellent
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