The more books I read of the Cadfael chronicles, the more I enjoy them. This is book number 12 in the series and is the third book in the 4th Cadfael Omnibus together with ‘The Pilgrim of Hate’ and ‘An Excellent Mystery’.
After 17 years as the parish priest of the Shrewsbury Foregate, the much loved Father Adam has just dies. Abbot Radulfus returns from Winchester with a priest recommended by the Archbishop, Father Ailnoth, along with his housekeeper and her nephew Benet.
Father Ailnoth’s credentials are excellent and he seems to have everything going for him, but his parishioners quickly discover that he is a stickler for the rules and completely lacking in human kindness. (not the ideal priest for the down-to-earth people of the Foregate). He quickly upsets most of the residents of the Foregate including the family of a sick baby who he delays baptising – because it is his prayer time, then refuses to bury in church ground. And a girl who has been a bit free with the boys and is refused absolution because it has happened before.
When Father Ailnoth’s body is found in the mill pond on Christmas morning, foul play is suspected and no-one is very surprised. Most of the Foregate had a reason to wish him gone, but the most likely culprit turns out to be the young man, Benet, who is now working with Brother Cadfael in his herb garden. And Brother Cadfael has already determined that Benet is not everything that he appears to be.
Brother Cadfael and his friend Sheriff Hugh Beringar work together to trace Father Ailnoth’s final hours and to unravel the mysteries surrounding Benet. And, in the midst of a murder investigation, Benet finds the love of his life.
This was another very enjoyable Cadfael mystery with a bit of spying and plotting by civil war factions going on in the background and mention of some old friends of Brother Cadfael’s – Torold and Godith from ‘One Corpse Too Many’. Although this book was not critical to the overall plot of the series, it is certainly not one to be missed.
Book Published 1986