An Excellent Mystery by Ellis Peters

This is the eleventh Cadfael chronicle and I have once again found myself transported back to 12th Century Shrewsbury. An Excellent Mystery is the second story in the 4th Cadfael Omnibus together with ‘The Pilgrim of Hate’ and ‘The Raven in the Foregate’.

The ongoing civil war between King Stephen and the Empress Maud has led to the firing of much of the city of Winchester, including the Benedictine Abbey of Hyde Mead. Two monks arrive in Shrewsbury as refugees from the destroyed Abbey. The older monk, Brother Humulus, fought in the crusades before joining the monastery and is slowly dying from his injuries. The younger monk, Brother Fidelis, is his mute and devoted companion and assistant.

Before going to the Holy Land, Brother Humulus was engaged to be married, and he broke the engagement on his return to England. One of his companions in the Crusades, Nicholas Harnage, now wishes to marry the ex-fiance, Julian Cruce, but she has been missing since shortly after the engagement was broken.

Meanwhile, young and beautiful Brother Rhun (see The Pilgrim of Hate), and Brother Fidelis are having difficulties with another of the monks at the monastery.

As Nicholas Harnage travels the countryside trying to find out what has happened to the beautiful Julian Cruce, Cadfael does what he can to uncover the web of mysteries from within the Abbey. And time is running out for Julian’s secrets to be uncovered before Brother Humulus dies.

This was another beautiful story of love and devotion. I found it a bit predictable and worked out what was going to happen long before the book got to it. But, I didn’t enjoy the book any less for having guessed the result.

Cadfael takes a bit of a back seat in this story. The solutions come about through the hard work of Nicholas Harnage and through events taking their natural course.

 

Book Published 1985

 

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

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