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A Morbid Taste for Bones: a mediaeval whodunnit: The First Chronicle of Brother Cadfael Hardcover – 25 Aug 1977


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; 1st ed edition (25 Aug. 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0333223241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0333223246
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,064,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

A pleasing, and unusual mixture of suspense and historical fiction. (Evening Standard)

Soothing, but no shortage of mayhem. (The Observer)

A cult figure of crime fiction. (Financial Times) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A specially priced edition to mark the 25th anniversary of the original publication of the first chronicle of Brother Cadfael. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
outside the monastic enclave, but here, in the enclosed garden within the walls, close to the abbot's fishponds and the brook that worked the abbey mill, Brother Cadfael ruled unchallenged. The herbarium in particular was his kingdom, for he had built it up gradually through the fifteen years of labour, and added to it many exotic plants of his own careful raising, collected in a roving youth that had taken him as far afield as Venice, and Cyprus and the Holy Land. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Aug. 2000
Format: Paperback
Ellis Peter's first Cadfael murder mystery takes as its setting the events surrounding the translation of the holy relics of Saint Winifred from the remote Welsh village of Gwytherin to the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Shrewsbury in 1138. Taking this real event as her starting point, Peters weaves an enchanting if rather overly romanticised tale of mediaeval rural and monastic life. Naturally, the practical common sense and basic human decency of her very worldy central character, Brother Cadfael, win out in the end. Here, he neatly side-steps all of many power-struggles - both secular and ecclesiastical - going on around him, to provide everyone with their heart's desire and solve the inevitable murder mystery into the bargain! Ellis Peters' writing style is so wonderfully erudite that one can always forgive her the occasional lapse into stereotypical characterisation or silliness of plot which tend to pepper her novels. "A Morbid Taste for Bones" is no exception in this regard, and whilst the story's central murder mystery is not at all hard for the reader to solve, the telling of it is so captivating that the book is hard to put down until it's finished!
Incidentally, I would recommend reading this book before any others in the series, because otherwise you will know which of the main suspects can be eliminated immediately! Of course, if you've seen the TV dramatisation, you'll know the main outcome already, but even then, the book is sufficiently different to still make it well worth reading. Recommended.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 July 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am delighted to see the Brother Cadfael novels beginning to appear on kindle and hope they will all be available soon. This is the very first book in the series, first published in 1977 and set in 1137, it still reads as though it could has been released this month. This is a timeless, classic mystery and an enjoyable introduction to the world of Cadfael and his fellow brothers at the Shrewsbury abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.

Brother Cadfael has arrived late to the cloister, after a full and eventful life. Now in his mid fifties, he has left the world behind him, embraced the monastic life and tends his Benedictine garden. However, as readers will know, he is always happy to become involved in events and, when Prior Roberts wishes to travel to Wales and secure the relics of a local saint for the monastery, he manages to be taken along as interpreter - and gain a place for young Brother John, whose vows he feels were made for the wrong reason.

Prior Robert is not a man who likes opposition and, along with his acolytes Brother Jerome and Brother Columbanus, he sets out determined to obtain the bones of Saint Winifred for the abbey. Local priest, Father Huw, is disconcerted when he hears of the mission and Rhisiart, a local landowner, opposes their desire to remove Winifred from Welsh soil. When Prior Robert attempts to use bribery to obtain what he wants, he finds he has misjudged the local people badly and, before long, Cadfael has a murder to solve. Cadfael is a charming character - a man who uses good sense, who does his best and who is never afraid of bending the rules if he is sure the outcome is worthwhile. If you are just embarking on this series then I envy you and I hope that these new, kindle versions, will help new readers discover these books.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. L. Rees TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 April 2011
Format: Paperback
The first Cadfael novel, from its start a delight. 1137. At Shrewsbury's Benedictine Abbey the magnificent herb garden bears testimony to the skills of its creator, a fifty seven year old monk with a most worldly past. For decades Cadfael fought and loved. Now he has settled for monastic life. His talents are wide, he not only adept at treating illness, but an acute observer of all around him. Great is his understanding of human frailty. Outwardly mild, he should never be underestimated.

Being of Welsh blood, he is the ideal choice to accompany Prior Robert and delegation to Wales, the mission delicate: transfer of Saint Winifred from her grave in remote Gwytherin. The Abbey thereby hopes to attract hordes of pilgrims and greatly boost its income. How will the people of Gwytherin react? Suspicion becomes hostility when their main spokesman is murdered....

Here is a book not to be hurried - all the better to savour its abundance of fascinating detail, subtleties and underlying humour. (The latter bubbles to the surface when a seemingly insurmountable problem is finally resolved.)

The times are evocatively depicted, as are the communities at both the Abbey and the Welsh village. For scene setting and creation of fullblooded characters, this is writing of a very high order. Interwoven are two love stories that greatly appeal and a murder mystery that genuinely intrigues.

An immensely enjoyable, leisurely, uplifting read - its detective far removed from those usually met in books. And so many novels to follow! What more could a reader want?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Feb. 2000
Format: Paperback
The late Ellis Peters (Edith Pargeter) started a long series of books (21 in all plus a short stories compendium) with this classic and complete novel. It is a tale about a Welsh monk named Cadfael (actually pronounced cad-vial) who is living in a religious order in Shrewsbury. One of the monks has a vision where Saint Winifred tells him that she wishes her bones to be brought to Shrewsbury and that the order can be entrusted to look after her bones. A team are assembled (including Cadfael, who can speak Welsh - naturally being a Welshman in the twelfth century). Once they arrive (after getting the blessing of the Prince of Gwynedd (pronounced gwin-eth) and the bishop, they declare their intentions to the people. One man speaks out against them...
I've skipped a lot of details and other important things to give you an idea of the story. Believe me, it is well worth reading. I feel that it is probably the most complete mystery I have read. The outcome could not be more perfect and the book as a whole is well written and easy to read. The only downside I can see is that occasionally I feel that the author loses track of the Welsh speakers and the English speakers, and leaves the reader unsure about who can understand which parts of the conversation. That aside, I heartfully recommend it - buy it now!
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