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In his fifteenth chronicle Brother Cadfael is witness to a shocking near-death confession and accompanies a fellow Benedictine on a dangerous quest for redemption.
Ellis Peters is one of the pseudonyms of Edith Pargeter who wrote several books under her own name and also Peter Benedict, Jolyon Carr and John Redfern. She was the recipient of the Crime Writers Association and the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award. She died in 1995.
The worldly-wise and compassionate Brother Cadfael makes a welcome, 15th appearance. On his deathbed, Brother Haluin confesses to the abbot and Brother Cadfael that 18 years previously he had fallen in love with Bertrade de Clary, whose mother had forbidden their marriage. The girl had later died as a result of herbs he had given her mother, Adelais de Clary, to abort their baby. Haluin unexpectedly recovers from his fall, however, and he now is determined to make a pilgrimage to the girl's tomb. But when he and Brother Cadfael arrive at Hales, they find Adelais de Clary strangely indifferent and no tomb for Bertrade at the church. Haluin insists on traveling to Elford, the chief seat of the de Clarys, in search of Beltrade's final resting place. The two monks find more than the tomb there, and on their homeward journey through Staffordshire they encounter forbidden love, a hastily arranged marriage, violent emotions and murder. It is up to Brother Cadfael to untangle the threads that bind the past to the present to avert another tragedy. Though the plot is somewhat obvious, Peters knows her period well and does not strike one false note in this thoroughly entertaining medieval mystery. (Jan.)
'Gripping and knowledgeable' - THE SPECTATOR
Just before the Feast of the Nativity on a snowy winter day in Shrewsbury, the brothers of the Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul are busy repairing the roof of the leaking guesthouse. Even Brother Haluin, the scriptorium's finest illuminator and the abbey's perennial penitent, takes his turn on the scaffolding. Unfortunately, Haluin is a better illuminator than a carpenter, and he falls. He is so near death that Abbot Radulfus is summoned to administer last rites. As Brother Cadfael stands by, Haluin confesses to a terrible crime from nearly 20 years ago. As the days pass, Haluin, though now maimed, does not die. Eventually, he and Cadfael embark on a penitential journey to Hales, where they find answers to old and new mysteries alike in this wonderful novel of love and redemption. Stephen Thorne is one of the truly great readers; his ability to render perfectly the medieval world of Cadfael's Shrewsbury makes this an essential purchase for libraries. Fans of the series will enjoy this 15th entry of the "Chronicles."-Barbara A. Perkins, Irving P.L., TX Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.