For me, the very best of a great series,
This review is from: One Corpse Too Many: 2 (Cadfael Chronicles) (Paperback)
First of all you must read this book BEFORE any other of the series - with the exception of A Morbid Taste For Bones. If you don't, you may still enjoy it but you will lose all the suspense. Trust me.
At the end of the siege of Shrewsbury, a number of rebels are hanged and their bodies thrown into a ditch. The right to a decent burial, by the monks of the Abbey, cannot be witheld, but Cadfael is dismayed to find that someone has taken advantage of the situation to dump an extra body, of a man who has not been hanged but murdered. Who is he, why was he killed - and by whom. For Cadfael, even in a land of battle and slaughter, this matters. Moreover, he finds himself with a young charge to care for, who may be more important than he seems, and witness to a developing triangle in which two of the King's circle vie for the love of a young woman. Carefully walking a tightrope in this most difficult of historical times, Cadfael strives to tease out the strands, make the connections, expose the guilty and protect the innocent. The result is critical for the other books in the series. So reviewing this book without giving anything away is tricky.
Take it for granted you will love Cadfael as much for his quiet wisdom, his generosity of spirit and his understanding of the humman condition as much as for his deductive powers based on close observation and for his courage.
Ellis Peters knows the locations of which she writes so lovingly, and her historical research is impressive - but it never gets in the way of the story or the characters. Her choice to make Cadfael a monk come late to the cloister after years as a crusader ( a man-at-arms, not a famous knight)is masterly. It gives him worldly wisdom and experience, good reason for the Abbot to trust him in matters rather beyond the understanding of the cloister, a rebellious streak, confidence to speak his mind, and occasionally an opportunity to use some physical skill.
The book has something of a double ending, which makes it rather unusual. Cadfael may have solved the mysteries, but for justice to be done, in the context of the age, something more will be needed...And Ellis Peters provides a gripping end.