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ALL AS IT SHOULD BE,
This review is from: Monk's-Hood: 3 (Cadfael Chronicles) (Paperback)
The third Cadfael novel. It is still 1138, Shrewsbury calmer now no longer the battleground between King Stephen and Empress Maud. The Abbey is without its gentle, aged Abbot Heribert - he summoned to London and almost certainly to be relieved of his post. Prior Robert deputizes - undoubtedly efficient, but ambitious and without warmth. A sudden death in one of the Abbey's guesthouses causes concern and embarrassment. Monk's-Hood is to blame, the ointment produced by Cadfael used to poison a partridge. Murder! Instantly the hunt is on for the victim's stepson Edwin, the two having just quarrelled. Edwin really the culprit? Cadfael is not so sure....
As ever, the novel delights - the humour, there in the first book, less so in the second, now more in evidence. Admittedly readers on this occasion may be ahead of Cadfael in identifying the killer but are far less likely to anticipate what happens after guilt is proved.
A particular strength is the characterization. Edwin and kindred spirit Edwy are fun. Cadfael himself is shown in a new light - unexpectedly faced with his great love of forty two years earlier. Especially appealing is his young assistant Brother Mark - gawky and shy when with others but blossoming under Cadfael's guidance, now a chatty source of interesting gossip and with a crucial part to play. Aloof Prior Robert, so cold and demanding, proves a formidable presence - aided and abetted by odious talebearing sycophant Brother Jerome. Even minor characters come over strongly - as when in Wales for the novel's dramatic climax.
Ellis Peters is adept at tying up loose ends. When we think she has finished, there is still one to come. Savour most slowly the return of Heribert - all apprehensively assembled to greet him, Robert and Jerome scarcely able to conceal their excitement....
Another immensely satisfying read, the book eventually closed with a contented sigh.