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One Corpse Too Many: 2 (The Cadfael Chronicles) [Paperback]

Ellis Peters
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

19 May 1994 The Cadfael Chronicles
In the Summer of 1138, war between King Stephen and the Empress Maud takes brother Cadfael from the quiet world of his garden to the bloody battlefield. Not far from the safety of the Abbey walls, Shrewsbury Castle falls, leaving its ninety-four defenders loyal to the Empress to hang as traitors. With a heavy heart, brother Cadfael agrees to bury the dead, only to make a grisly discovery: ninety-five bodies lies in a row, and the extra corpse tells Cadfael that the killer is both clever and ruthless. But one death among so many seems unimportant to all but the good Benedictine. He vows to find the truth behind disparate clues: a girl in boy's clothing, a missing treasure, and a single broken flower - the tiny bit of evidence that Cadfael believes can most easily expose a murderer's black heart.

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere; New edition edition (19 May 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0751511021
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751511024
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 11 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,010,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Gripping and knowledgable' - THE SPECTATOR

Book Description

In his second chronicle Brother Cadfael is asked to administer rites to a group of executed prisoners and discovers he has an extra body to deal with.

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First Sentence
On the nineteenth day of June, when the eminent visitor arrived, Brother Cadfael was in the abbot's garden, trimming off dead roses. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cadfael's Mystery Adds Up Correctly! 22 Aug 2000
By A Customer
With her first Brother Cadfael novel ("A Morbid Taste for Bones"), English author Ellis Peters introduced us to perhaps, now, the most famous of the medieval "detectives"! And in her second installment, "One Corpse Too Many," we find the erstwhile Benedictine monk up to his neck in another murder mystery, this time involving way too many deaths!
In this episode, Brother Cadfael and his beloved Shrewsbury have the unpleasant task of burying the bodies of 94 soldiers, killed as a result of a battle between Stephen and the Empress Maud, both trying to claim the throne of England. In this ugly civil war, we find the countryside constantly in a flux as to which side is which, as this struggle, which lasted for 12 years, seemed to change shapes and sides all too frequently. In this instance, it is Stephen who has won the day. After the hanging of the hold-outs, Brother Cadfael, representing the church and the Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul in Shrewsbury, goes in to arrange for the proper burial of the dead. He is told there were exactly 94 bodies. Instead, he finds an extra one--that of a young man, unidentified, who has had his throat slashed.
And Brother Cadfael, over the course of the novel, uses all his God-given talents to solve the mystery. And solve it, of course, he does. He wants not only to identify the young man, but to name the murderer. At the same time, Peters, whose real name is Edith Pargeter, lays the foundation for two of her other recurring characters, Aline and Hugh Beringer (This is a nice romantic touch!). Cadfael, himself, is the herbalist to the abbey and uses that skill to help him solve the murder. He is also able to call upon some of the knowledge he learned during his younger days as a Crusader to the Holy Lands.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read! 29 Mar 2000
By A Customer
Ellis Peters has written another excellent book. This one follows on from 'A morbid taste for bones' and although (I feel) it isn't quite as good a mystery, it's an excellent story.
King Stephen is attempting to secure land and money in his fight against the Empress Maud. The current stage is Shrewsbury and a successful attack leaves few survivors of the defending garrison. King Stephen condemns them to death and upon Cadfaels arrival to bury the dead in a Christian manner, finds there is one more than was counted originally (all souls must be accounted for and prayers said for them).
The extra corpse, once found, is seen to have been murdered. Cadfael must use all his cunning and keep his eyes and ears open to solve this one.
This story concentrates more on the underlying story than the actual mystery but the guilty party doesn't become apparent until near the end making it a good and suspenseful read. Buy it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RESPECT WHERE DUE 26 April 2011
The second Cadfael novel. A year has passed. In 1138 Shrewsbury is paying a heavy price for siding more with Empress Maud than King Stephen as the two battle for the throne. Hitherto Stephen's leniency has been misinterpreted as weakness. No misunderstanding this time - all 94 captured from the castle are promptly hanged.

The Abbey insists due respect be paid to the dead, Cadfael delegated to supervise. Suddenly a puzzle. 95 bodies? Shockingly the war has been used as a cover for murder. Stephen is outraged. Cadfael vows to track down the culprit. With the town in such turmoil, this is quite a task....

Cadfael himself is one of literature's happiest creations - tending herbs at the Abbey a far cry from his decades as soldier and ship captain (complete with romantic interludes). Very much of the world, he is no fool - an acute observer who sees things as they truly are.

Ellis Peters clearly has a great regard for the period, it portrayed with a wealth of detail that fascinates. As in the first novel, she skilfully interweaves two love stories and a killing that intrigues. Especially well handled is the cat and mouse game played by Cadfael and his prime suspect - its outcome surprising. The hard to please may accuse her of rose-coloured spectacles, the times perhaps a little idealized. They may declare the last minute witness a cliche, the climax melodramatic.

Most, however, will savour an exceptionally enjoyable read, its end immensely satisfying.

Warmly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "A leaf hidden in your forest" 16 Dec 2009
By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"I am telling you, my lord Prestcote, there is a murdered man among your executed men, a leaf hidden in your forest." Thus does Brother Cadfael inform King Stephen's man that an additional body has been placed by someone amongst those who have been hanged for their treason against the king. Who placed him there? And why?

The second book in the Cadfael series was published in 1979. Although it contains largely the same Abbey personnel as the first, this time its mood is different. For a start, there are no journeys into the hills of North Wales; rather, the plot is focussed centrally on the town of Shrewsbury. Secondly, the forces of history impedes to a greater degree, as we are present at the successful siege of the town by King Stephen: the civil war between Stephen and Matilda is now well to the fore.

We are also introduced to Hugh Berengar, the future sheriff that will appear in the remaining eighteen books of the series. They both commence their acquaintance by being cautious in their approach to one another. Late in the book, Berengar accuses Cadfael of being an alchemist: even of being a wizard. Ironically, this is moments before discovering that Cadfael has cheated him of his expected treasure. But Ellis Peters views her characters under an older system of virtues, with Cadfael stating to Berengar that the latter would never value a trifle of gold above his self-esteem. When Berengar is appointed deputy sheriff in the closing scenes, did Peters envisage that he would play such a prominent role in future episodes?

As usual, Peters's Cadfael whodunits do not rely on cliffhangers at the end of each chapter. No, her work relies more on intellect and atmosphere to draw the reader on.
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