Saint Peter’s Fair by Ellis Peters

Saint Peter’s Fair is Ellis Peters’ fourth Cadfael novel and it is the first story in the ‘Second Cadfael Omnibus’ along with ‘The Leper of Saint Giles’ and ‘The Virgin in the Ice’.

The fair named for one of the monastery’s patron saints, Saint Peter, is an annual event. With the fair having been cancelled the previous year due to the town of Shrewsbury being occupied by King Stephen’s men (see ‘One Corpse Too Many’), everyone is looking forward to a large and successful fair this year – 1139. As usual the fair brings together merchants and buyers from far and wide, and those on opposite sides in the civil war will happily trade with each other. But, as you would expect, the is also a bit of spying and secret exchange of information going on.

With the town walls and streets still in disrepair from last years’ occupation, the leading merchants of Shrewsbury unsuccessfully request a greater share of the abbey’s profits from the fair. Angry about being rejected, the merchants’ sons take their case directly to the visiting merchants. After an unfortunate accident, this turns into a full-scale riot. When one of the visiting merchants is later found murdered, the provost’s son, Philip Corviser, becomes the prime suspect. But when the crimes continue with Philip under lock and key, the law must look elsewhere for the murderer.

Cadfael and Hugh Beringar take a bit of a back seat in this mystery while Philip retraces his steps of the fateful day to work out who is responsible for robbery, assault and murder. But in the end it is only the victim’s daughter and Cadfael who understand the motive.

It was good to once again see the return of Hugh Beringar, this time with his wife Aline heavily pregnant. Also, it was interesting to see how Abbot Radulfus is settling in. As the series progresses several of the characters are starting to make repeat appearances.


Book Published 1981


See a full list of books by Ellis Peters/ Edith Pargeter

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