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A Morbid Taste for Bones

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A Morbid Taste for Bones (1977) Ellis Peters

Cadfael is a brother at Shrewsbury abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Unlike most of his brethren he came to his calling late, having spent his younger years as a Crusader–and perhaps also an adventurer.

Nothing troubled his peace but the necessity to take himself indoors for Mass, and the succeeding half-hour of chapter, which was always liable to stray over by an extra ten minutes. He grudged the time from his more congenial labours out here among the vegetables, but there was no evading his duty. He had, after all, chosen this cloistered life with his eyes open.

Through a series of somewhat suspicious events, Prior Robert convinces the Abbot to send them on a pilgrimage to bring the bones of a saint to their Abbey.

He had been scouring the borderlands for a spare saint now for a year or more, looking hopefully towards Wales, where it was well known that holy men and women had been common as mushrooms in autumn in the past, and as little regarded.

Brother Cadfael goes along as he grew up in Wales and his native speech comes in use as they travel. Which is good, because there are complications.

“In my church,” said Huw humbly, “I have never heard that the saints desired honour for themselves, but rather to honour God rightly. So I do not presume to know what Saint Winifred’s will may be in this matter.

The best part of this series is, of course, Brother Cadfael, whose past makes him far more pragmatic than most brothers.

Cadfael returned along the path with the uncomfortable feeling that God, nevertheless, required a little help from men, and what he mostly got was hindrance.

Meet every man as you find him, for we’re all made the same under habit or robe or rags. Some better made than others, and some better cared for, but on the same pattern all.

“(L)eave agonising too much over your sins, black as they are, there isn’t a confessor in the land who hasn’t heard worse and never turned a hair. It’s a kind of arrogance to be so certain you’re past redemption.”

It’s a lovely story and a good mystery and as enjoyable the second time as the first read.

Publisher: MysteriousPress.com/Open Road
Rating: 8/10

Categories: 8/10, British, Historical, Mystery, Re-Read     Comments (0)    



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