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In the twelfth century, merchants gather at a summertime fair—but when one of them is found dead in a river, a crime-solving monk must step in. St. Peter’s Fair is a grand, festive event, attracting merchants from across England and beyond. There is a pause in the civil war racking the country in the summer of 1139, and the fair promises to bring some much-needed gaiety to In the twelfth century, merchants gather at a summertime fair—but when one of them is found dead in a river, a crime-solving monk must step in. St. Peter’s Fair is a grand, festive event, attracting merchants from across England and beyond. There is a pause in the civil war racking the country in the summer of 1139, and the fair promises to bring some much-needed gaiety to the town of Shrewsbury—until the body of a wealthy merchant is found murdered in the river Severn. Was Thomas of Bristol the victim of murderous thieves? And, if so, why were his valuables abandoned nearby?   Brother Cadfael, that shrewd but kindly monk, offers to help the merchant’s lovely niece Emma. But while he is searching for the killer, Thomas of Bristol’s wares are ransacked and two more men are murdered. Emma almost certainly knows more than she is telling—as others will soon realize. Cadfael desperately races to save the young girl, knowing that in a country at war with itself, betrayal can come from any direction, and even good intentions can kill. 


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In the twelfth century, merchants gather at a summertime fair—but when one of them is found dead in a river, a crime-solving monk must step in. St. Peter’s Fair is a grand, festive event, attracting merchants from across England and beyond. There is a pause in the civil war racking the country in the summer of 1139, and the fair promises to bring some much-needed gaiety to In the twelfth century, merchants gather at a summertime fair—but when one of them is found dead in a river, a crime-solving monk must step in. St. Peter’s Fair is a grand, festive event, attracting merchants from across England and beyond. There is a pause in the civil war racking the country in the summer of 1139, and the fair promises to bring some much-needed gaiety to the town of Shrewsbury—until the body of a wealthy merchant is found murdered in the river Severn. Was Thomas of Bristol the victim of murderous thieves? And, if so, why were his valuables abandoned nearby?   Brother Cadfael, that shrewd but kindly monk, offers to help the merchant’s lovely niece Emma. But while he is searching for the killer, Thomas of Bristol’s wares are ransacked and two more men are murdered. Emma almost certainly knows more than she is telling—as others will soon realize. Cadfael desperately races to save the young girl, knowing that in a country at war with itself, betrayal can come from any direction, and even good intentions can kill. 

30 review for Saint Peter's Fair

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    Everybody knows about this fabulous writer of historical cozy mysteries, murders and crimes, so what can I add? Just that, don't read the first of the Brother Cadfael series and think, that isn't SO impressive, and stop there! This was better than A Morbid Taste for Bones, the very first in the series. I am no fan of mysteries, be they cozy or not, but the characters in this series draw you in. You cannot help but enjoy learning a spot of history among these good-souled people. Being in their co Everybody knows about this fabulous writer of historical cozy mysteries, murders and crimes, so what can I add? Just that, don't read the first of the Brother Cadfael series and think, that isn't SO impressive, and stop there! This was better than A Morbid Taste for Bones, the very first in the series. I am no fan of mysteries, be they cozy or not, but the characters in this series draw you in. You cannot help but enjoy learning a spot of history among these good-souled people. Being in their company is comforting. You sigh with relief - there are nice people out there! What I particularly like is how it is not the historical events themselves that are stressed, but rather how these events play out in the lives of normal people. This is what draws me into reading about history, not the titles and dates and battle skirmishes. No, it is how life was for ordinary people living at the time. I like that the mystery itself is clearly explained. Brother Cadfael and Hugh Beringar explain how they reason, how they have come to their conclusions. Others may find this repetitive, but I love it. I hate tricky mysteries where I do not totally understand what is going on! Oh, and thirdly, the description of medieval life is superb! Wow, a mystery novel series that I will be returning to. My dear GR friends have explained it is not necessary to read them in order. I loved listening to the audiobook, and given the generosity of Audible (see below), I will very soon continue with The Leper of Saint Giles and then The Sanctuary Sparrow and then Monk's Hood. What next? I guess Dead Man's Ransom or An Excellent Mystery, but the last is not set in lovely Shrewsburg! I would choose One Corpse Too Many, the second in the series, IF it were available. That is where you are first introduced to Hugh Beringar! Thanks, Gundula, for persistently stating that this series is wonderful. I must thank both Gundula and Shomeret for guiding me toward the next choices! THIS IS IMPORTANT: I purchased from Audible the audiobook format of this book. It had release date: 010197. Narrator Johanna Ward. This version had a different cover. The recording was bad, although I could hear it. There was a background rumble and sometimes you heard an echo where there should be silence. You heard voices in the background. So I complained. Audible has another audiobook (release date 070510). It costs the same, has the same length and narrator, but the cover looks like the one above. I suggested to Audible that they exchange the two. First they offered to repay what I had paid for the book, but because I had bought it on sale the reimbursement would not cover the price of the other version since the sale is now over. What did they do? They gave me a credit to buy the other version AND repaid what I spent AND gave me a 30USD coupon! Now tell me if Audible isn't fantastic!!!! I love working with Audible. I want people to know how wonderful they are. So, if you get this as an audiobook, buy the one that has release date 071510! IMPORTANT. BTW - this is good! I love the description of the medieval times. I am not fussing about all the details, just enjoying the story. I am not going to get all stressed up and worry about the incriminating evidence. I am doing exactly as Gundula has advised me. You know what? I actually understand everything anyway! So far at least! This mystery is in fact very, very good. Thank you, Gundula, for recommending this one of the series! It is my third.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Wanda

    What a pleasure it is to find a character and a series that I consistently enjoy. Four books into the Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, and I am well and truly hooked. So I am well pleased to see that I still have 16 books ahead of me. The trick will be not to read them too quickly! Brother Cadfael is a wonderful medieval sleuth—he’s participated in the Crusades, he’s had love affairs, he’s a man of the world, but he has chosen “retirement” in Shrewsbury Abbey. I think his philosophy would be that G What a pleasure it is to find a character and a series that I consistently enjoy. Four books into the Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, and I am well and truly hooked. So I am well pleased to see that I still have 16 books ahead of me. The trick will be not to read them too quickly! Brother Cadfael is a wonderful medieval sleuth—he’s participated in the Crusades, he’s had love affairs, he’s a man of the world, but he has chosen “retirement” in Shrewsbury Abbey. I think his philosophy would be that God helps those who help themselves, although in this installment he receives one of his greatest breakthroughs by withdrawing to the chapel to pray. Abbey politics also feature in these books and Cadfael is getting used to a new leader (and they seem to see eye to eye). People are people, regardless of time period. Young people are going to have strong opinions, occasionally drink too much and embarrass themselves, fall in love, and generally do the things that young people do. Including getting implicated in crimes. Cadfael is wonderfully non-judgmental for a monk and full of quiet wisdom. A person who notices small details and can put them together quickly & accurately, he is an excellent forensic investigator before such a thing was considered. A joy to read this comfortable, entertaining series.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Manybooks

    While the fact that in Ellis Peters' Saint Peter's Fair, there are multiple murders has always bothered me a just wee bit (for one of the best parts of the Brother Cadfael series to and for me actually is that unlike so many historic mysteries, Ellis Peters does not usually have too much of a body count present in her novels), I do realise that the two supplemental murders post the demise of Thomas of Bristol are actually essential for both the development and moving along of the plot, of the st While the fact that in Ellis Peters' Saint Peter's Fair, there are multiple murders has always bothered me a just wee bit (for one of the best parts of the Brother Cadfael series to and for me actually is that unlike so many historic mysteries, Ellis Peters does not usually have too much of a body count present in her novels), I do realise that the two supplemental murders post the demise of Thomas of Bristol are actually essential for both the development and moving along of the plot, of the storyline itself and also and importantly for once and for all clearing the name of the individual who had been originally accused of Thomas of Bristol's death and jailed for this (although truth be told, I for one never from the first assumed that Philip Corviser was guilty and always did find Ivo Corbiere too good to be true, too slick and too creepy in an arrogant way). But aside from my very minor quips regarding more than one body, more than one murder in Saint Peter's Fair, this is probably one of my favourites of the earlier Brother Cadfael novels. For yes indeed, aside from the realistic portrait of 12th century Mediaeval England (and a typical church-run and organised fair) which Ellis Peters delightfully and descriptively paints (not to mention the historical details on the Civil War between King Stephen and the Empress Maud), I also and totally absolutely do adore both Brother Cadfael and Hugh Beringar as characters and how Ellis Peters shows in Saint Peter's Fair the every strengthening bond of friendship and comradeship between the two of them and yes, how first and foremost Hugh Beringar is for justice, law and order but also does not really ever impose his being King Stephen's man on everyone and therefore does not for example even expect Brother Cadfael to choose sides in the conflict between Stephen and Maud. And even though Hugh Beringar quickly realises that Emma Verold knows more about why her uncle Thomas might have been murdered and that it has likely something to do with the civil war, with clandestine messages and subterfuge, Hugh never is anything but both civil and even affectionate towards her, he does not put Emma in distress (and after her being rescued from Ivo Corbiere's clutches by Philip, Hugh backs off, leaves Emma alone and top Brother Cadfael's care). And indeed, it is the differences in ESPECIALLY Hugh Beringar's character in the BBC mini-series adaptation of Saint Peter's Fair from Ellis Peters' printed words, from her actual text that have made me stop watching the series in both anger and frustration. For in the BBC production of Saint Peter's Fair, especially Hugh Beringar, he is shown like a total little dictator in many ways, not only completely pro King Stephen but as also generally decidedly unfriendly towards Brother Cadfael (and even rather too often accusing him of interfering and of not being loyal enough) and certainly downright cruelly nasty towards Emma Jerold (all because he feels as though she has not told everything she knows). And in fact and in my opinion, the BBC adaptation of Saint Peter's Fair basically takes almost everything humane and likeable out of Hugh Beringar and renders him into just a goose-stepping political functionary, a for the most part one-sided individual, not at all like the actual Hugh Beringar of Ellis Peters' Cadfael novels but in fact rather appearing like how in the Brother Cadfael series, Gilbert Prescote, the Sheriff for Shropshire and Hugh's boss so to speak is usually presented (and considering that I have always found Gilbert Prescott an interestingly rendered but personally unattractive and extremely unlikable character, I do find it rather personally offensive that the BBC dramatization of Saint Peter's Fair basically has turned one of my absolutely favourite characters of the Cadefael novels into another, how in the BBC series instalment of Saint Peter's Fair, Ellis Peters' sweet-natured, justice-oriented and personally likeable Hugh Beringar basically has ended up morphing into a Gilbert Prescote like stereotypical and as such also very much boring and tedious authority figure).

  4. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This, fourth, book in the Brother Cadfael series, takes place around the Abbey and the town of Shrewsbury. For three days, the Abbey holds St Peter's Fair, where wealthy merchants gather and people come from far and wide to buy goods. However, the local townspeople are displeased and a row brews between them and the Abbey, when they ask for a proportion of the fair tolls to be given to the town to restore the walls after recent outbreaks of war - seen in earlier books, when the town was besieged This, fourth, book in the Brother Cadfael series, takes place around the Abbey and the town of Shrewsbury. For three days, the Abbey holds St Peter's Fair, where wealthy merchants gather and people come from far and wide to buy goods. However, the local townspeople are displeased and a row brews between them and the Abbey, when they ask for a proportion of the fair tolls to be given to the town to restore the walls after recent outbreaks of war - seen in earlier books, when the town was besieged. As such, we get to meet the new Abbot - who put Prior Robert's nose out of joint, after he was not given the post. With resentment building in the town, the fair goes ahead. Then, a wealthy merchant is found killed and it is, of course, up to Cadfael to unravel the mystery. I like the characters in these books, but find the romance, which seems to crop up in every book, rather obvious. These are probably best read spaced out, but they are comforting mysteries and the historical background is interesting.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    (Upon my third reading, May 25, 2016) “The manifold gifts of God are those to be delighted in, to fall short of joy would be ingratitude.” Better with each reading. I discovered Cadfael twenty years ago. I have read each book at least twice since as well as watched all thirteen ITV episodes. Though they have some merit, the latter turned the originals inside out. “It’s no blame to men if they try to put into their own artifacts all the colors and shapes God put into his.” Saint Peter's Fair is a mur (Upon my third reading, May 25, 2016) “The manifold gifts of God are those to be delighted in, to fall short of joy would be ingratitude.” Better with each reading. I discovered Cadfael twenty years ago. I have read each book at least twice since as well as watched all thirteen ITV episodes. Though they have some merit, the latter turned the originals inside out. “It’s no blame to men if they try to put into their own artifacts all the colors and shapes God put into his.” Saint Peter's Fair is a murder mystery, but it is also an immersion in medieval culture and history, a reflection on the world and man’s place in it, and a romance. Peters weaves all her threads into a fascinating tapestry simultaneously fun and informative. “Penitence is in the heart, not in the word spoken.” Earlier readings left me with the impression that Cadfael was a twentieth century man in monk’s robes, but he is thoroughly a reflection of his time, though he rises above the stereotypes. “What you see is only a broken part of a perfect whole.” A good story, well told. Mystery Theater (PBS) got this one pretty close to right. Cadfael series: excellent historical fiction. Ellis Peters draws the reader into the twelfth century with modern story telling but holds us there with a richness of detail which evokes a time and place which might as well be mythic. Though the foreground of each chronicle is a murder mystery, behind it a nation and a culture are woven in a wondrous tapestry.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    It's always a treat to spend time with Brother Cadfael and the monks of Shrewsbury Abbey. I have the entire series now and plan to go through it... slowly. It's always a treat to spend time with Brother Cadfael and the monks of Shrewsbury Abbey. I have the entire series now and plan to go through it... slowly.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    These are starting to grow on me. I read my first Cadfael, oh, I guess it was ten or so years ago. I wasn't all that into it. Not that it was terrible, I just wasn't thrilled by it. Since then I've gotten more into mysteries, so I figured I'd give Peters' stuff another go. I tried the hermit one about a year ago with better results. This third attempt was the best so far. I don't know that the quality of the books differed one from the other or if my opinion of them has improved because they're These are starting to grow on me. I read my first Cadfael, oh, I guess it was ten or so years ago. I wasn't all that into it. Not that it was terrible, I just wasn't thrilled by it. Since then I've gotten more into mysteries, so I figured I'd give Peters' stuff another go. I tried the hermit one about a year ago with better results. This third attempt was the best so far. I don't know that the quality of the books differed one from the other or if my opinion of them has improved because they're starting to take on that ol' familiar comfort read. I suspect the latter. I'm settling into the settings and getting to know the recurring characters. All the reasons why a series is preferred by many readers over stand-alones is coloring my perception in a most pleasing way! Huzzah! Huzzah, I say!!!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  9. 5 out of 5

    Christine PNW

    I liked this one a lot.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    Another great installment in the Cadfael series. I'm really enjoying these mysteries and the time I get to spend enjoying England of that era (without the aromas). This book like the earlier ones is richer, more complex and more enjoyable than the television series that was based on them. This is particularly the case in this story as the screenwriter took considerable liberties with the original story, mostly for the worse. In the book Cadfael and Berringer are fast friends, Brother Mark is her Another great installment in the Cadfael series. I'm really enjoying these mysteries and the time I get to spend enjoying England of that era (without the aromas). This book like the earlier ones is richer, more complex and more enjoyable than the television series that was based on them. This is particularly the case in this story as the screenwriter took considerable liberties with the original story, mostly for the worse. In the book Cadfael and Berringer are fast friends, Brother Mark is here instead of Oswin and we get to see Aline again, now as Hugh's wife and expecting their first child. Even the scamp from Monk's Hood makes a cameo appearance. I'm not sure why the screenwriter felt the need to create all the tension between Hugh and Cadfael in the television adaptation. The two work much better as friends. I can see eliminating many aspects of this book's romance in order to fit the alloted time but Emma, the wine merchant's niece was kind of gutted for TV consumption. She's a much more likeable and winning (and believeable) character in the book. Again, I'm not much of a die-hard mystery buff but I enjoy these as they give me an opportunity to spend time in that era.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Ray

    This is one of the best. July-August 1139. Just before Empress Maud returns to England to wage civil war against King Stephen's supporters. This is one of the best. July-August 1139. Just before Empress Maud returns to England to wage civil war against King Stephen's supporters.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Toria

    This book have with two other books of this series been sitting on my shelf for years. I thought it was the first three books but turns out it was 1, 4 and 9. Anywho I enjoyed this cozy mystery set in medieval times a lot, the characters are great, with a lot of interesting characteristics to go a long with them and the mystery is compelling and interesting to follow. Hope I can find more books of this series in second hand soon!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Susan in NC

    I think there is definitely a right time to read or reread books - my last read of this Brother Cadfael mystery was less than satisfying, I found it too wordy and drawn out. This time, I enjoyed it much more - I was in the mood for a visit to Shrewsbury, and indeed, from the opening paragraphs, as Cadfael contemplates the sunny, scented summer garden, and the building excitement of the summer fair, I was all in! I reread for one of the Reading the Detectives group’s June buddy reads, but this wa I think there is definitely a right time to read or reread books - my last read of this Brother Cadfael mystery was less than satisfying, I found it too wordy and drawn out. This time, I enjoyed it much more - I was in the mood for a visit to Shrewsbury, and indeed, from the opening paragraphs, as Cadfael contemplates the sunny, scented summer garden, and the building excitement of the summer fair, I was all in! I reread for one of the Reading the Detectives group’s June buddy reads, but this was a perfect early summer pandemic read for me! Very enjoyable, with the usual wonderful characters, authentically researched setting, and an exciting ending. I loved this series when I first read it decades ago, and find myself enjoying Cadfael’s humanity, decency, warmth and humor even more as I reread at this age, much closer to Cadfael’s sixty years!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Susan in NC

    3.5 stars - I originally read the Brother Cadfael mysteries during college breaks, and enjoyed them so much that historical mysteries became my favorite genre. I’ve forgotten most of the plots in the subsequent 30+ years, and decided I was due for a reread! I struggled to get into this one, probably because I just finished a great Georgette Heyer book and couldn’t switch gears...also, the last third of the book, well really, the last quarter or so, picked up the pace considerably and the ending w 3.5 stars - I originally read the Brother Cadfael mysteries during college breaks, and enjoyed them so much that historical mysteries became my favorite genre. I’ve forgotten most of the plots in the subsequent 30+ years, and decided I was due for a reread! I struggled to get into this one, probably because I just finished a great Georgette Heyer book and couldn’t switch gears...also, the last third of the book, well really, the last quarter or so, picked up the pace considerably and the ending was quite a corker! No spoilers, but even though I began to suspect the villain, the ending was very satisfying and he got his comeuppance, delivered at the hands of one of Peters’ wonderful young female characters. A very satisfying mystery, overshadowed by the ongoing conflict between Empress Maud and King Stephen for the throne of England. Once again, I am reminded that I still haven’t read my used copy of Penman’s “When Christ and His Saints Slept”, to get the full story on this conflict! Definitely this summer...so many books! (Yay!)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lemar

    Irony takes a holiday. Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael novels successfully bring us into the 12th century in part by shedding our prevalent irony, retaining so many other human traits that we slip through time and hardly notice it. This makes for a refreshing and interesting journey. This is not to say that she creates "a more innocent time", such a time never existed. Her magic is to render a time in full that, through her choice of words and her well researched details, feels entirely different Irony takes a holiday. Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael novels successfully bring us into the 12th century in part by shedding our prevalent irony, retaining so many other human traits that we slip through time and hardly notice it. This makes for a refreshing and interesting journey. This is not to say that she creates "a more innocent time", such a time never existed. Her magic is to render a time in full that, through her choice of words and her well researched details, feels entirely different and yet negotiable by us modern visitors.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    Was wavering between a 3 and 3.5 stars, but the last 3 chapters bumped it to 4 stars. Awesome ending! I am very taken with Peters' command of characterization. Also love the simple homilies Cadfael imparts. Just an all around pleasure to read these short(ish) whodunnits. Was wavering between a 3 and 3.5 stars, but the last 3 chapters bumped it to 4 stars. Awesome ending! I am very taken with Peters' command of characterization. Also love the simple homilies Cadfael imparts. Just an all around pleasure to read these short(ish) whodunnits.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    This one starts slowly, but when it revs up, it really moves and you can't put it down. There is more politics in this one - it helps to remember who is on Stephen's side and who is on Maud's, and who is sitting on the fence waiting to see who will win. But if you forget and zone out, not to worry, it will all come clear in the end. I do love these books. Cadfael is endearing in a very NON-sentimental way and he has a mischievous soul. I think it would have been lovely to have a series of books d This one starts slowly, but when it revs up, it really moves and you can't put it down. There is more politics in this one - it helps to remember who is on Stephen's side and who is on Maud's, and who is sitting on the fence waiting to see who will win. But if you forget and zone out, not to worry, it will all come clear in the end. I do love these books. Cadfael is endearing in a very NON-sentimental way and he has a mischievous soul. I think it would have been lovely to have a series of books dealing with his earlier secular adventures during the Crusades. There are quite a few women in his history. But he has a genuine, if unusual, vocation, and his happiness at just being in the physical world of gardens, animals, and people with all their faults and their surprising ways of developing is palpable. Peters spends a lot of time on describing physical landscape, especially smells, and even though I don't usually like this, I think she has an amazing way with it. Especially with smells, pleasant, pungent and repulsive. All in all, nearly 5 stars...

  18. 4 out of 5

    HBalikov

    By way of full-disclosure, I have read most or all of Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael novels when they were first available. But that was long ago and far away in my memory. I picked up this one by chance and reading it was an opportunity to again explore a period of turmoil in English history when the land had not been long conquered by the Normans and royal succession was being fought-over by King Stephen and Empress Matilda. This, to my mind, is one of the best of the series. Ellis Peters, a pen By way of full-disclosure, I have read most or all of Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael novels when they were first available. But that was long ago and far away in my memory. I picked up this one by chance and reading it was an opportunity to again explore a period of turmoil in English history when the land had not been long conquered by the Normans and royal succession was being fought-over by King Stephen and Empress Matilda. This, to my mind, is one of the best of the series. Ellis Peters, a pen-name, created Brother Cadfael, who after a life as a Crusader, has retired to a Benedictine abbey adjacent to Shrewsbury, a significant town on the Welsh border. Not only was the country in civil war, but the borders of England were in frequent turmoil from both the Scots and the Welsh. Peters enjoys exploring the moral and religious dilemmas posed by events in and around the abbey. In this story, there is a lull in the conflicts and the Benedictines are able to conduct their annual trade fair from which they derive much of the revenue to support the abbey and its functions. The town was in the year previous severely damaged by the war and a number its citizens lost their lives. The town fathers wish that the abbey share a portion of its revenue to help with those repairs. The abbot has heard their plea and refused based on a previously negotiated agreement with Shrewsbury. As the fair begins, there is the death of a prominent merchant from Bristol. As the fair proceeds, there are other deaths. Is there a connection among them? Who will be the next? What should be the responsibilities of citizens, sheriff, monks, abbot, merchants and visitors? All of this is fit for exploration. If I recall other Cadfael novels correctly, this is one of the minority that does not involve much in the way of internal abbey procedures and politics. The new abbot gives Cadfael responsibility for protecting the abbey’s reputation by making inquiries into the death of the merchant and keeping him informed. This gives him freedom to wander beyond the walls of the abbey while taking time, when possible, to keep his personal responsibilities as the abbey’s chief herbalist. Since this isn’t the first of these chronological tales, those who are reading them in order will find familiar characters including monks, merchants and the assistant sheriff, Hugh Beringar, and his wife Aline. The plot is intricate and the sins are frequent and subtle. Though it is possible to guess the villain early, the “why” and the extent of villainy plays out only in the latter part of the book. There is young love and mature love on display. We see most things through Cadfael’s well-honed eyes. As an investigator he applies his knowledge of life and relationships as much as his ability to spot physical clues. We also learn a bit more about his time as a crusader and his “home town” in Wales. I am interested in the history of this period, so I am impressed at how well Peters integrates this with her story. Plot elements dovetail and she brings history down to its effects on the common man and the remote town. Having read, appreciated and reviewed Mortimer’s The Time Travelers Guide to Medieval England, I am further impressed with the details that Peters includes and makes part of an enriched story. She gives a real “feel” to the place and time.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Charles van Buren

    A little atypical for Cadfael Publication date: August 5, 2014 Publisher: MysteriousPress.com/Open Road Language: English ASIN: B00LUZNVZK 272 pages This is far from being my favorite Brother Cadfael novel. I do not recommend it as anyone's first book in the series. On the plus side this novel is atypical of the series thus providing a little variety. It is more mystery driven and a bit less character driven than most of the other volumes. I however like the character driven aspects of the novels more A little atypical for Cadfael Publication date: August 5, 2014 Publisher: MysteriousPress.com/Open Road Language: English ASIN: B00LUZNVZK 272 pages This is far from being my favorite Brother Cadfael novel. I do not recommend it as anyone's first book in the series. On the plus side this novel is atypical of the series thus providing a little variety. It is more mystery driven and a bit less character driven than most of the other volumes. I however like the character driven aspects of the novels more than the mysteries which are sometimes pretty basic. This one is more involved than usual with many clues in the text. Even so it was very easy to identify the guilty very early on. Part of the reason for that is undoubtedly my familiarity with Ellis Peters' style. The trick being to identify the innocent. Whatever remains is of course the solution to paraphrase Sherlock Holmes. As usual the novel is written with elegant, even beautiful prose. This tale has fewer of the usual plot elements. There is a wrongly accused man but even the sheriff does not seem to seriously believe that he is guilty. There are star crossed lovers but there are no family objections or obstacles to overcome with Brother Cadfael's help. The villain in this story is particularly odious with no redeeming or sympathetic qualities at all. This novel is both familiar enough and different enough to entertain Cadfael fans but I was unable to read it on autopilot. It was not a good choice for a simple tale to read while tired and sleepy.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nente

    I had the same problem with this book as with many Heyer's mysteries: the author's attitude to each character was so obvious from the outset that I spotted the main villain even before he had the time to commit his crimes. I like the mentality our protagonist and other positive characters have (and almost all characters, with the exception of the villains, are positive). Cadfael's Christianity is endearing, fully compatible with common sense and very forgiving. The attitude they all have to women I had the same problem with this book as with many Heyer's mysteries: the author's attitude to each character was so obvious from the outset that I spotted the main villain even before he had the time to commit his crimes. I like the mentality our protagonist and other positive characters have (and almost all characters, with the exception of the villains, are positive). Cadfael's Christianity is endearing, fully compatible with common sense and very forgiving. The attitude they all have to women is great - but I have a hard time believing it fits into the period... not that I want to read about women being degraded, but every character who speaks on these pages, always with the exception of the villains, fully recognizes that women are as good as men in intelligence, willpower, and any other capability. Doesn't sound medieval to me, and even while it makes for uplifting reading experience I harbour my doubts.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gavin

    "Are you going to Scarborough Fair Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme Remember me to one who lives there She once was a true love of mine." Well this is St. Peter's Fair and a sore spot between Shrewsbury and Abbey of St Peter and St Paul, regarding how the tolls are allocated during the fair. The argument appears to create a small riot as the vendors arrive, which then leads to a body discovery. How we get there and how is pure fun. I had a hint of a solution with one event and it bore fruit, but usu "Are you going to Scarborough Fair Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme Remember me to one who lives there She once was a true love of mine." Well this is St. Peter's Fair and a sore spot between Shrewsbury and Abbey of St Peter and St Paul, regarding how the tolls are allocated during the fair. The argument appears to create a small riot as the vendors arrive, which then leads to a body discovery. How we get there and how is pure fun. I had a hint of a solution with one event and it bore fruit, but usually I am not so lucky. Nevertheless, a cracking good read. Seriously, start this series right now.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Barb in Maryland

    It is the summer of 1139 and time for the Abbey's main money-raiser--the St. Peter's Fair. Merchants from near and far arrive by river and road to take part in the 3 day event. A great time for buying, selling, carousing, with a side of political intrigue. The stage is set when Abbot Radulphus denies the request of the town worthies for a modest share of the Abbey's profits from the fair*. A confrontation between a group of young men and one of the more prominent fair merchants, Thomas of Bristol It is the summer of 1139 and time for the Abbey's main money-raiser--the St. Peter's Fair. Merchants from near and far arrive by river and road to take part in the 3 day event. A great time for buying, selling, carousing, with a side of political intrigue. The stage is set when Abbot Radulphus denies the request of the town worthies for a modest share of the Abbey's profits from the fair*. A confrontation between a group of young men and one of the more prominent fair merchants, Thomas of Bristol, goes badly. One young man injured and a follow-on brawl gets the fair off to a rough start. When Thomas goes missing and is later found murdered, suspicion falls on young Phillip, the provost's son, who was injured by Thomas during the confrontation on the jetty. Of course, it isn't as simple as that. When Thomas's barge is searched and his booth ransacked, it becomes obvious that someone is looking for something they believe Thomas to have. But what? Perhaps Thomas's lovely young niece Emma knows more than she's willing to tell... Cadfael gets involved because he's been assigned as interpreter to a Welsh merchant, who claims to know no English. He is on the spot when the brawl breaks out and later gets involved in the search for Thomas. Abbot Radulphus tasks him with getting to the bottom of all this; a task Cadfael gladly accepts. The action unfolds in twists and turns over the 3 days of the fair. There's another murder that must fit in with that of Thomas, but how? Emma has drawn the attention of the dashing Ivo, who is ever-so helpful, perhaps too much so? All comes to a head in a dramatic climax that leaves the bad guys vanquished, true love rewarded and Cadfael happy to return to the peaceful daily routine of the Abbey. The best parts of the book for me were the verbal exchanges between Cadfael and Rhodri, the Welsh merchant. Lots of fun there and a clever way to impart to the reader all the political background needed for the plot to work. *I am always happy when I can learn something while I'm being entertained. It was interesting to learn how the Abbey profited from running the fair; why the Abbot was so intent on protecting the Abbey's rights and why the town leaders were so disappointed in his answer.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Damaskcat

    The Abbey and town of Shrewsbury are looking forward to the annual St Peter's Fair as a respite from the battles of the civil war. Then a wealthy merchant - come to sell his goods at the fair - is found dead and it looks as though violence hasn't gone from the town at all. Brother Cadfael witnessed a violent incident which may have led to the murder but as ever things are not as they seem and it will take all Cadfael's intelligence and ingenuity to discover the truth. I like Cadfael and I always The Abbey and town of Shrewsbury are looking forward to the annual St Peter's Fair as a respite from the battles of the civil war. Then a wealthy merchant - come to sell his goods at the fair - is found dead and it looks as though violence hasn't gone from the town at all. Brother Cadfael witnessed a violent incident which may have led to the murder but as ever things are not as they seem and it will take all Cadfael's intelligence and ingenuity to discover the truth. I like Cadfael and I always feel when reading these books that I have been transported back to the twelfth century - a period of history I know very little about. I thought the plot was well constructed though I did work out who was at the back of the series of deaths though not why the murders were happening. If you enjoy historical crime novels then this series is definitely worth reading. I think the series can probably be read in any order though if you want to follow the development of minor series characters then you need to read them in order of publication.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Cadfael's strong, tolerant personality makes these books comfortable and comforting, despite people being knocked off left and right. Cadfael's strong, tolerant personality makes these books comfortable and comforting, despite people being knocked off left and right.

  25. 4 out of 5

    SarahKat

    Not my favorite of the Cadfael's for sure. The villain was easy to spot from the beginning and for some reason I wasn't drawn in to the mystery at all. The last few chapters were exciting though. Not my favorite of the Cadfael's for sure. The villain was easy to spot from the beginning and for some reason I wasn't drawn in to the mystery at all. The last few chapters were exciting though.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Logan

    Another solid entry in the series. I have enjoyed each book more than the last.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cecily Felber

    In this fourth Brother Cadfael story we find ourselves amid the color and chaos of a medieval fair that--no surprise!--has a dark underbelly of criminals and spies at work, so that there's no rest for Sheriff's Officer Hugh Beringar or Cadfael. Brother Cadfael (pronounced Cad-file) has definitely entered the ranks of great fiction detectives alongside Sherlock Holmes and Lord Peter Wimsey. But these stories are more than just murder mysteries in medieval drag. Ellis Peters actually lived in Shrew In this fourth Brother Cadfael story we find ourselves amid the color and chaos of a medieval fair that--no surprise!--has a dark underbelly of criminals and spies at work, so that there's no rest for Sheriff's Officer Hugh Beringar or Cadfael. Brother Cadfael (pronounced Cad-file) has definitely entered the ranks of great fiction detectives alongside Sherlock Holmes and Lord Peter Wimsey. But these stories are more than just murder mysteries in medieval drag. Ellis Peters actually lived in Shrewsbury, England, where Cadfael's monastery of St. Peter and Paul can still be visited. Her knowledge of the land and people and history permeates her work and gives her the incredible gift of transporting her reader into the past. You really do feel as though you are in that long-lost world lit only by fire, where it's quiet and green and life moves at a pace most people can be happy in. Cadfael is a suitably complex man. He's from Wales, but now living in England (though Wales is not very far away). He was once a soldier, but now he's a monk. He's lived a full life, now he wants to be quiet. But he also has a strong sense of right and justice and refuses to compromise on these things, even when it means getting himself in trouble. He's also picked up a lot of knowledge, especially of herbology and medicine and (somehow for the time) logical analysis that stands him in good stead as a solver of mysteries. Another charming step along the journey of Cadfael!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sarai

    From Amazon.com customer reviewer Beverley Strong: St.Peter's fair is held annually on the section of land outside the monastery walls in Shrewsbury, but involves the monastery itself, with its guesthouses filled with the gentry and travelling merchants. When the body of wealthy merchant, Thomas of Bristol is discovered, stabbed, stripped and robbed, his niece Emma who was accompanying him, is put into the care of Aline, the wife of the deputy sheriff, Hugh Berengar. Brother Cadfael becomes the g From Amazon.com customer reviewer Beverley Strong: St.Peter's fair is held annually on the section of land outside the monastery walls in Shrewsbury, but involves the monastery itself, with its guesthouses filled with the gentry and travelling merchants. When the body of wealthy merchant, Thomas of Bristol is discovered, stabbed, stripped and robbed, his niece Emma who was accompanying him, is put into the care of Aline, the wife of the deputy sheriff, Hugh Berengar. Brother Cadfael becomes the girl's protector as she moves around the town, determined to carry on her uncle's business, as he would have wished. Another merchant is murdered and Emma's belongings are searched as if the killer is looking for something in particular. The townspeople of Shrewsbury become very alarmed as this part of the country is still very much divided in its loyalties, with factions supporting King Stephen and others favouring Empress Maud. Cadfael is convinced that Emma knows more than she's admitting, but it's only when she is openly courted by a young nobleman, who would normally be considered too far above her in station, that her life is endangered. It's another fascinating story of life and death in 12th century England, with the detective monk, Cadfael working his way methodiaclly through clues to a satisfactory solution.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Another great read as I hopscotch around the Brother Cadfael books. I must confess that I may have read this one years ago, along with a few others but rereading is always a joy also! What I possibly like the best is that the series is superimposed on a pivotal era in English history, and one that I love to read. The Civil Wars between the Empress Matilda and her cousin Stephen of Blois eventually gave birth to the Plantagenet Kings my very favorite group. In this tale a murderer does his crimes Another great read as I hopscotch around the Brother Cadfael books. I must confess that I may have read this one years ago, along with a few others but rereading is always a joy also! What I possibly like the best is that the series is superimposed on a pivotal era in English history, and one that I love to read. The Civil Wars between the Empress Matilda and her cousin Stephen of Blois eventually gave birth to the Plantagenet Kings my very favorite group. In this tale a murderer does his crimes while supposedly helping this war effort. We know that a lot of evil flourished at this point , when "God and His Saints Slept. Cadfael and his great friend Hugh Beringer, at this time deputy Sheriff of Shrewsbury, finally assisted by Philip a merchant's son, solve a complicated series of murders. Recommended highly.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mary Ellen

    I am determined to read the Cadfael mysteries in order, as obviously characters appear and reappear, without a lot of (annoying) back story, and the history of the period, particularly the struggle for the English throne and its affects on the "little people" of the towns, is integral to the book. So, it took me a little while to track down #4. I find these books restful and interesting - as being in the presence of warrior-turned-monk Cadfael is often balm for the troubled folks who find their w I am determined to read the Cadfael mysteries in order, as obviously characters appear and reappear, without a lot of (annoying) back story, and the history of the period, particularly the struggle for the English throne and its affects on the "little people" of the towns, is integral to the book. So, it took me a little while to track down #4. I find these books restful and interesting - as being in the presence of warrior-turned-monk Cadfael is often balm for the troubled folks who find their way to his abbey and herbarium. But I am "getting" Peters' patterns now - particularly the young couple who fall in love by the end of each book - and I was able to figure out the Whodunnit midway through the book, which is not typical for me. So I must save these books for when I want Cadfael's company, rather than when I'm looking for a good mystery to sink my teeth into.

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