Monk's Hood - The 3rd Chronicle of Brother Cadfael


Mark Haddon

"A pleasing and unusual mixture of suspense and historical fiction"

Evening Standard



Ellis Peters (real name Edith Pargeter) wrote 20 Cadfael stories (chronicles). What makes her books stand out from other murder mystery writers, is that the stories are based around a 12th century monk, Father Cadfael, who regularly gets embroiled in solving murders occurring round and about Shrewsbury.

Brother Cadfael is a Benedictine monk and herbalist based at Shrewsbury abbey.  He was born in 1080 in North Wales and at the age of fourteen was a servant to a wool-trader. In 1096, he embarked on the First Crusade to the Holy Land, after which he lives for several years in Syria and the Holy Land earning a living as a sailor, before returning to England around 1114. Here he discovers that Richildis Vaughan, to whom he had been unofficially engaged, had tired of waiting and had married a Shrewsbury craftsman. So Cadfael becomes a foot soldier until he receives the calling and becomes a monk. He has a deep belief in God and his calling and is at ease with his new life. However he is worldly wise and this sets him apart from his fellow Monks who have no experience of life outside the abbey.

In this third chronicle, Brother Cadfael is devastated that one of his herbal potions has been used to kill and is determined to bring the perpetrator to justice. Cadfael’s religious calling is questioned when he discovers that the wife of the murder victim is his former sweet heart, Richildis and his attempts to resolve the mystery are not helped, when he finds his movements are restricted to the Abbey grounds. However, by a twist of fate, this restriction is removed, when he is sent out, to the Welsh borders, to tend to a fellow sick monk, who is based conveniently close to the Manor of Mallilie, which plays a key role in the story. Cadfael overcomes many hurdles, not least of which, is his need to spend a good part of every day in prayer or meditation, to eventually resolve this mystery but there is a final twist here.

To add some additional colour there is a parallel story line about who will be the new Abbot of Shrewsbury abbey, which is resolved in a very amusing way.

If you like murder mysteries but are getting bored with the standard story format, try a Brother Cadfael for a breath of medieval fresh air.




Reviewed on 13/11/2011 by Peter


Reviewed item details

ISBN: 978-0-7515-4377-3 

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