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Publisher's Summary

In the summer of 1139, there is a pause in the civil war racking the country, and St. Peter’s Fair promises to bring some much-needed gaiety to Shrewsbury—that is, until the dead body of a wealthy merchant is found in the river Severn. Was Thomas of Bristol the victim of murderous thieves? If so, why were his valuables abandoned nearby?

Brother Cadfael, that shrewd but kindly monk, offers to help the merchant’s lovely niece, Emma. But as he searches for the killer, Thomas of Bristol’s wares are ransacked and two more men are murdered. Emma almost certainly knows more than she is telling, and others will soon discover this, too. Cadfael desperately races to save the young girl, knowing that in a country at war with itself, betrayal can come from any direction—and even good intentions can kill.

©1981 Ellis Peters (P)1997 Blackstone Audio

Critic Reviews

“Each addition to the series is a joy. Long may the Chronicles continue.” (USA Today)
“Wonderful history lessons wrapped up in a mystery and served with style and grace.” (Cincinnati Post)

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  • Carol
  • Massachusetts
  • 08-11-11

Classic Cadfael

Brother Cadfael is a monk and herbalist/healer in a 12th-century Benedictine abbey on the border of England and Wales--an historically accurate location whose ruins can still be visited. The novels are set during a time of civil war and unrestas two cousins, Steven and Matilda (the Empress Maud) compete for England's throne. This series, published between 1977 and its author's death in 1995, helped launch the "historical sleuth" genre of mysteries. As with many series, the early-middle entries (Chronicles 3-8 in my opinion) seem to me to be the strongest. This entry, Chronicle 4, is one of my favorites.

There is an embarrassment of riches on Audible when it comes to narrator choice for this series. Patrick Tull, best known for his splendid narrations of the Aubrey/Maturin nautical novels, is an excellent choice for the "monastic" atmosphere of the series. But since Cadfael's stories lack the action of Aubrey's sea battles and political intrigues, Tull's low-key (if forceful) presentation can become soporific. Sir Derek Jacobi played the title role in the BBC dramatizations. Stephen Thorne is a classic English reader; his presentations are faultless, but not compelling. Then there's Johanna Ward.

It may seem strange to have a woman narrate these stories, in which almost all the major characters are male. But I found her reading to be highly enjoyable, moving faster and with more energy than other versions of these stories I've listened to. Whichever narrator you choose, if you like classic historical mysteries with lots of period ambience, you should enjoy these books.



6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Carol
  • Sunderland, MA, United States
  • 08-11-11

Classic Cadfael

Brother Cadfael is a monk and herbalist/healer in a 12th-century Benedictine abbey on the border of England and Wales--an historically accurate location whose ruins can still be visited. The novels are set during a time of civil war and unrestas two cousins, Steven and Matilda (the Empress Maud) compete for England's throne. This series, published between 1977 and its author's death in 1995, helped launch the "historical sleuth" genre of mysteries. As with many series, the early-middle entries (Chronicles 3-8 in my opinion) seem to me to be the strongest. This entry, Chronicle 4, is one of my favorites.

There is an embarrassment of riches on Audible when it comes to narrator choice for this series. Patrick Tull, best known for his splendid narrations of the Aubrey/Maturin nautical novels, is an excellent choice for the "monastic" atmosphere of the series. But since Cadfael's stories lack the action of Aubrey's sea battles and political intrigues, Tull's low-key (if forceful) presentation can become soporific. Sir Derek Jacobi played the title role in the BBC dramatizations. Stephen Thorne is a classic English reader; his presentations are faultless, but not compelling. Then there's Johanna Ward.

It may seem strange to have a woman narrate these stories, in which almost all the major characters are male. But I found her reading to be highly enjoyable, moving faster and with more energy than other versions of these stories I've listened to. Whichever narrator you choose, if you like classic historical mysteries with lots of period ambience, you should enjoy these books.



4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A good listen

An enjoyable listen for anyone liking murder mysteries in an early English environment Value for money

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

An Escape

Elis Peters writes literate novels that assume the reader is intelligent. The Brother Cadfael stories are well thought out very well written. The characters are believable and the stories plausible. "St. Peter’s Fair" isn't Peter's best novel, but in a world of gratuitously gruesome and vulgar entertainment, her historical fiction is always an escape.

I thought that a woman reader portraying male characters might not work, but Johanna Ward does a wonderful job. Enjoy!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful