The Holy Thief by Ellis Peters

The Holy Thief is the 19th Cadfael Chronicle and is the first book in the 7th Cadfael Omnibus which also contains ‘Brother Cadfael’s Penance’ and ‘A Rare Benedictine’.

Book 17 ‘The Potter’s Field’ described the exploits of Geoffrey de Mandeville. Who with a band of rebels sacked Ramsey abbey and destroyed the surrounding countryside. De Mandeville has now been overthrown and his rebels disbanded. But, on returning to their abbey, the Benedictine Monks of Ramsey find that everything has been stolen or destroyed. Their monastery is an empty shell – even the woodwork of the building has been removed and burnt. The monks of Ramsey are now touring the country seeking donations of money, materials and labour to help rebuild their abbey and their lives.

Ramsey’s Prior Herluin travels to Shrewsbury with a young novice – Tutilo, and they receive support from Shrewsbury and the surrounding areas. Before they can leave Shrewsbury to return to Ramsey, the Severn River floods. The monks and helpers raise all church valuables above ground level to save them from the floodwaters. Some of the most valuable items are moved into an upstairs room.

After the floodwaters subside and the church valuables are returned to their rightful place, the monks of Shrewsbury discover that one of their most prized relics has gone missing. While searching for the relic, they are also afflicted by further theft and also a murder.

We meet a new character in this novel who plays a significant role here and in later novels – the Earl of Leicester, Robert Beaumont.

Brother Cadfael and Sheriff Hugh Beringar must solve a murder and a theft. Cadfael must also help the novice Tutilo find his real purpose. And, there is the usual young love affair trying to flourish.

This was an excellent mystery with a surprising ending, and with the inclusion of an important historical figure. There was also the use of the ‘sortes sanctorum’ where a random passage is selected from the bible as a form of divination.


Book Published 1992


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

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