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In his fourteenth chronicle Brother Cadfael's tranquil life as a herbalist is disturbed by the arrival of a saintly hermit and the disappearance of a young boy.
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
Brother Cadfael, the 11th century Benedictine monk who functions admirably as healer, matchmaker and sleuth, marshals his considerable talents to solve two murders in this well-plotted but somewhat slick mystery. Ten-year-old Richard Ludel, a bright and independent student entrusted to the abbey's care by his father, has just inherited a large estate upon his father's death. His formidable grandmother, Dame Dionisia, insists that the unwilling boy be returned home and marry the heiress to the adjoining property. Two mysterious tenants on Dame Dionisia's land, a devout hermit, Cuthred, and his young aid, Hyacinth, are in league wtih the domineering dowager, who is unaware that Hyacinth is actually a runaway villein and that Cuthred's background is particularly heinous. When Richard disappears from the abbey, Dame Dionisia is immediately suspect. Other ominous events follow rapidly: an inquisitive nobleman is murdered in the forest; Hyacinth vanishes; and Cuthred is stabbed to death. Brother Cadfael must summon all his talents to solve the crimes, simultaneously playing matchmaker, doctor and high political games. Unfortunately, most of the characters are glibly superficial: lovers are fair and pure; villains cruel and swarthy. In his 14th appearance, however, Brother Cadfael remains as shrewd and unpredictable as ever. (March)
'Charmingly and humourously told.' TLS