A Morbid Taste for Bones

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Morbid Taste for Bones
Ellis Peters, 1977

Premise: Brother Cadfael has been many things in his long life, but now he is content to tend the garden in Shrewsbury Abbey. When the ambitous Prior Robert proposes a journey to acquire Saint Winifred's bones for the Abbey, Cadfael gets himself invited along as Welsh translator. What they find in the quiet village of Gwytherin involves a lot more scandal and murder than Prior Robert was anticipating, and Cadfael sets himself to discovering the truth.

I loved this book. The characters are colorful and entertaining, and Cafael in particular is wonderful to follow. I found his practical, grounded attitude - born of being an old campaigner - completely irresistible. The plot is twisty, with an appropriate number of red herrings and revelations, a good balance of adventure, romance and humor, and the ending feels both completely unexpected and absolutely appropriate.

Plus it's a medieval mystery about a crime-solving monk. There wasn't much chance that I was going to dislike this book.

I watched the television series adapted from this book as a teen, and I remember loving it, but I hadn't gotten around to the books until now.

A few other notable things:
In this case I liked how long it took the book to get to the mystery. The setting and characters were compelling enough even before the plot picked up.

I thought this book had a great balance between mysticism and realism. It never failed to amuse me when Cadfael would privately question the political motivations behind this holy vision or the reality of that superstition. Given that baseline, the few maybe-unexplained phenomena were just part and parcel of the medieval setting.

In short: Hooray! I have a new long series to track down!

5 Stars - An Awesome Book

A Morbid Taste for Bones is available on Amazon, or hopefully at your local library.

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