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A Morbid Taste for Bones (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #1)

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  19,605 ratings  ·  679 reviews
Ellis Peters' introduction to the murderous medieval world of Brother Cadfael...
A Morbid Taste for Bones

In the remote Welsh mountain village of Gwytherin lies the grave of Saint Winifred. Now, in 1137, the ambitious head of Shrewsbury Abbey has decided to acquire the sacred remains for his Benedictine order. Native Welshman Brother Cadfael is sent on the expedition to tran
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Mass Market Paperback, 197 pages
Published 1994 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 1977)
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S.J. Arnott I quite like Mr Eco, but you do get the impression that he takes himself quite seriously. I think Ellis Peters stories are better, if less cerebral…moreI quite like Mr Eco, but you do get the impression that he takes himself quite seriously. I think Ellis Peters stories are better, if less cerebral (mostly straightforward mysteries with a few twists thrown in) and Cadfael himself is a very engaging character.(less)
The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoThe Alienist by Caleb CarrThe Historian by Elizabeth KostovaThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónMistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
Best Historical Mystery
27th out of 1,058 books — 2,881 voters
One for the Money by Janet EvanovichThe No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall SmithCrocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth PetersChocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne FlukeThe Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Cozy Mystery Series
18th out of 537 books — 1,562 voters


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Community Reviews

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Werner
Nov 27, 2011 Werner rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of historical mysteries
Recommended to Werner by: I was a fan of the PBS Brother Cadfael episodes on Mystery!
Dame Edith Pargeter had already, by 1977, made a reputation for herself, under the pen name of Ellis Peters, as a mystery writer; but under her own name, she was also a respected author of historical fiction, much of it set in medieval Wales. When she brought the two genres together in this first of many novels, set in the border country between England and Wales (where she grew up) in the turbulent mid-1100s and featuring Brother Cadfael, a former veteran soldier now a monk in his sixties, and ...more
Lisa
Great historical mystery series.

Since this info was hard for me to find, below is a list of the Cadfael novels in order of publication:

A Morbid Taste for Bones

One Corpse Too Many

Monk's Hood

St. Peter's Fair

The Leper of St. Giles

The Virgin in the Ice

The Sanctuary Sparrow

The Devil's Novice

Dead Man's Ransom

The Pilgrim of Hate

An Excellent Mystery

The Raven in the Foregate

The Rose Rent

The Hermit of Eyton Forest

The Confession of Brother Haluin

The Heretic's Apprentice

A Rare Benedectine

The Potter's Field
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Willow
This book is actually quite good.

I must admit though, I had a hard time getting through it. In fact, I pretty much had to sit myself down and force myself to read through to the end. I’ve decided that has much more to do with me than the book itself (consequently my high rating). The truth is, I just don’t like mysteries, and now I know that even by setting the mystery in a fascinating time period, this doesn’t change. When I was younger, I used to read every Agatha Christi ‘Poirot’ story I cou
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Chrissie
Marvelous story. You have to read it to find out exactly what happens. A fun spoof on religion. The historical detail, the characters, and the humor are enchanting. By the end I loved Brother Cadfael and all the villagers of Gwytherin, Wales. An utterly charming tale and funny too!
Stephen
2.0 to 2.5 stars. I picked this book up after really enjoying Dissolution by C. J. Sansom and wanting to try another historical mystery. While well written, I found this book to be fairly dull and the main character not nearly as interesting as Sansom's Matthew Shardlake. Not horrible by any means, just not great.
Hannah
Having enjoyed the TV series (starring Derek Jacobi as Cadfael), I've long wanted to read the books on which they were based. This first book in the series was a treat. Peters has an easy writing style, and the story was intriguing and kept my interest, even though having seen its TV twin I knew how it would play out. There are many parallels to the TV adaptation, but also some slight changes as well, which was ok. Brother Cadfael is a wonderful leading character. I am looking forward to seeing ...more
Jon
May 09, 2013 Jon added it
Recommended to Jon by: Ron Andrea
Hanne
In a weird way, this book is pure nostalgia.

I never read this book before, but my mother used to have the entire collection and in my memories it seems like she was constantly reading one of them while i was a kid (which is probably not really true, but you know how memories work! they are alway slightly distorting the truth).
I saw this book a little while ago in the library and i just had to read it now.

It is a nice, quick and enjoyable read. Not too much suspense (although i am glad i was able
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Damaskcat
The Abbot of the Benedictine monastery in Shrewsbury has decided his abbey needs the relic of a saint to raise their profile. A vision by one of his monks means that his attention fixes on Saint Winifred whose remains currently lie in a small Welsh village. Permission is granted to go and remove the remains and Brother Cadfael - being the only Welsh speaker among the monks goes with them.

What follows is a PR disaster and results in the death of more than one person. But Brother Cadfael works to
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Petra
A fun story featuring a medieval monk with a past. I really enjoyed this visit of Olde England, the myths, the travel. The villagers of Gwytherin are a wonderful group.
There's not much I can say without giving away a mystery. The adventures of Father Cadfael and the others is a fun, human, warm story of murder, friendship, faith, hope, truth.
Colleen
"...Brother Cadfael had come late to the monastic life, like a battered ship settling at last for a quiet harbour." He'd traveled the world and had many women. "He could not conceive of coming to this stasis having done nothing else whatever." How could you not be enamored of a monk like that? He gets mad when his holy duties take away from his gardening. He sleeps through chapter. He pokes fun at his fellow brothers: Brother John "was a handsome, lusty, good-natured soul, who seemed to have blu ...more
Terri
Ah ha! We meet at last Brother Cadfael. Pray tell, Brother, was it as boring for you as it was for me?
I have heard much about the Brother Cadfael series and heard plenty of good reports on the books, including the first book in the series. This one. A Morbid Taste For Bones.
Having been one of the only English speaking persons in the world to have never read any of the books or watched any of the tv shows I have had A Morbid Taste For Bones on my radar for a goodling amount of time. Always putti
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Stephen
I freely confess that first I came to the Brother Cadfael saga through PBS. Later I read the books that had never made it into TV form and am just now getting around to reading some of the books that have been favorite television programs of mine for some time.

It's a measure of the quality of the adaptations that neither the book nor the TV program is a disappointment. The printed story is a bit more complicated but the TV show touches on all of the major plot elements and even adds some embell
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Nikki
I've been meaning to reread these for a while. I don't think I can improve on my first impressions: it's a believable enough portrayal of both medieval Welsh and religious life, from what I know of either, and I particularly liked the portrayal of the women of the story, even the dead woman. I like that there's a hint of mystery and sacredness, too, that things turn out alright and it might be human effort or there might be a hint of divine intervention as well. It suits the time period.

I also n
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Julie Bozza
A very competently done murder mystery set in medieval times, which (alas!) never really grabbed me. However, I did like a few things: The contrast between Cadfael's former adventurous life and his current contentment as a Benedictine was interesting, and I am sure is made good use of in other books in the series. There was some interesting info when comparing Welsh 'village' life with the English equivalent. And Cadfael's solution to the ultimate problem here was creative and amusing and a litt ...more
Bea
This is the first book in the Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, a monk at the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Shrewsbury, England, in 1137. In this story, one of the monks. Prior Robert, is desirous of having a saint's relics at this abbey. He has been searching around for an available (yet unclaimed) saint and has found one in Wales.

A group of the brothers travel to Wales to obtain this saint's bones. They have permission from the prince of the land and the local bishop, but th
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Tiffany
I've given stars indescriminately to Ms. Peter's entire Cadfael canon, but that's only because I read them 30 years ago and I can't remember which ones I loved and which ones I only merely loved a little. I give the series five stars because they were pretty much flawless. Also, for me, life-changing.

While the stories are set in the 12th century, a hard time to give color and texture to, Ms. Peters acquits her writerly duties with perfection. Her understanding of language and rhythm is remarkab
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Nathan
Enoyable history candy. I find myself taking on the speech mannerisms of the books I'm reading, and after nearly a dozen Brother Cadfael's I was a walking talking 12C monk.

The mysteries are quite gentle, despite featuring murders. Brother Cadfael, the protagonist, is never put in danger--compare, for example, to Dick Francis where almost every book features the hero getting beaten up twice (once to show that he feels pain, and again to show that he's brave enough to take the beating he knows is
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Laura
3.75 stars. I really enjoyed the first in this Brother Cadfael series, and look forward to continuing with it. It wasn't a page-turner that constantly called me back to it, but I was happy to spend time with the characters when I did pick it up. There is a lot to like about Brother Cadfael, I love the setting, and am slowly learning about medieval history, which is great. I also like a series in which religion figures prominently and positively, and people try to be good to one another, and show ...more
Amalie
This is a really interesting and entertaining start of a series, I had no idea such series existed.. Medieval fans should be delighted. This is both entertaining and educational.

In this book an English monastery's plan to bring back the bones of a Welsh saint and runs into a deadly complication. The setting is medieval England and Wales in the early 12th Century but is no obstacle to enjoying the stroy since the author provides everything so the reader need only supply a little imagination. The
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Bill Rogers
Brother Cadfael is intelligent, practical, level-headed, and a schemer. It occurred to me several times in this book that he would make an excellent supervillain were he not also kind-hearted and dedicated to good. Let us thank God for that, because certainly that's what Cadfael would do.

In this, Cadfael's first chronicle, Prior Robert has been thundering that the Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul at Shrewsbury needs its own dead saint to bring in the tourists. Or, excuse me, pilgrims. Prior R
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PEI Public Library Service
When one of our libraries decided to try a medieval mystery book club, the Chronicles of Brother Cadfael by Ellis Peters was the first series selected. Readers could choose to read any one of the twenty books in the series, but -- after reading one book -- most readers went on to read multiple books in the series. Some of the people planning on attending the book club were long-time fans who owned the entire series of books and had watched the DVDs. The library carries DVDs of the British televi ...more
Joseph Rizzo
So many people I know have read this series of books, that I knew I had to give it a try. I'm glad I did. I don't know how quickly I will get through them; I like tackling a variety of types of books.

The setting is 12th century England monastic life. We're introduced to monks of the Benedictine order, and specifically brother Cadfael. Cadfael has all of the traits and charecteristics one could want in any top notch detective. Reading through this, I couldn't help but think of the writings of Bed
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Sandra
I'm pretty sure I've listened to this before, but it was still entertaining, although I wished the poseur of a sanctimonious murdering monk had a more public downfall. Patrick Tull, as a narrator, tends to put me to sleep and makes all characters sound alike so I'm listening to a different narrator on the next book in the series. Brother Cadfael is a lovable guy, but also tough, which is nice.
Mike (the Paladin)
A vision by Columbanus a rather ambitious young monk convinces Prior Robert who is "in the market" for "Saint relics" to be located at Shrewsbury Abbey. Unfortunately Saint Winefride already has a home. She's buried in Wales.

This is not good. Mayhem will surely ensue... and of course it does. Just one question, can a long dead saint shoot a bow and arrow?
Poe
"Une abbaye bénédictine peut-elle décemment attirer les foules sans reliques consacrées ? Non, répond le prieur de Shrewsbury, en cet an de grâce 1138. Qu'à cela ne tienne, le pays de Galles voisin a des saints pour chaque jour de l'année, et même plus ! Sainte Winifred, bien négligée par ses voisins, apparaît alors à un jeune moine. Un signe du ciel. L'abbaye envoie donc une délégation au village gallois. Lequel n'entend pas se faire enlever sa sainte, comme le proclame haut et fort le seigneur ...more
Susan
An interesting and intriguing main character, atmospheric location, and a good story made this an excellent whodunnit....a great start to the series.
Randal
Nov 29, 2014 Randal rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Agatha Christie fans
Shelves: crime
A thoroughly entertaining little historical crime novel. Brother Cadfael is no Sherlock Holmes (quite) but he's one of a handful of great fictional detectives just below the resident of 221B Baker St.
I have read several / many of this series over the years, so when someone dropped off a copy at our house, I couldn't help but pick it up. It's still fresh after many years, with enough hints that the attentive reader has a reasonable chance of guessing whodunit before the grand denouement.
Not overl
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Keeley
Mar 07, 2015 Keeley rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Mystery fans
Recommended to Keeley by: Cathy
Shelves: cheapthrills
I first read Ellis Peters as a teenager, and really enjoyed the character of Brother Cadfael, as well as the well-plotted mystery adventures and well-researched depiction of life in twelfth-century England and Wales. Returning to the books now, I'm impressed. So many of the mysteries I enjoyed growing up now seem almost unreadably badly written, but Cadfael holds up. Still an enjoyable series. I really need to get around to reading her more serious historical fiction, like The Brothers of Gwyned ...more
Kavita
The first book in the Cadfael series, A Morbid Taste for Bones is about a group of Benedictine monks who travel to Wales to take possession of a saint. They face opposition there and the main opponent is soon found murdered. Was his murder due to the local disputes or did the English monks bring murder and crime to Wales?

The monk Cadfael does the detecting and solves the mystery on time before they have to leave Wales. He was an interesting and rational character and the author somehow managed
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Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect number of pages 6 183 Jan 10, 2014 06:05AM  
Another stolen Saint 9 66 May 21, 2012 05:33PM  
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4046
A pseudonym used by Edith Pargeter.

Edith Mary Pargeter, OBE, BEM (September 28, 1913 in Horsehay, Shropshire, England –October 14, 1995) was a prolific author of works in many categories, especially history and historical fiction, and was also honoured for her translations of Czech classics; she is probably best known for her murder mysteries, both historical and modern. Born in the village of Hor
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More about Ellis Peters...

Other Books in the Series

Chronicles of Brother Cadfael (1 - 10 of 20 books)
  • One Corpse Too Many (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #2)
  • Monk's Hood (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #3)
  • St. Peter's Fair (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #4)
  • The Leper of Saint Giles (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #5)
  • The Virgin in the Ice (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #6)
  • The Sanctuary Sparrow (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #7)
  • The Devil's Novice (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #8)
  • Dead Man's Ransom (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #9)
  • The Pilgrim of Hate (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #10)
  • An Excellent Mystery (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #11)
One Corpse Too Many (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #2) The Leper of Saint Giles (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #5) Monk's Hood (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #3) St. Peter's Fair (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #4) The Virgin in the Ice (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #6)

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“I do believe I begin to grasp the nature of miracles! For would it be a miracle, if there was any reason for it? Miracles have nothing to do with reason. Miracles contradict reason, they strike clean across mere human deserts, and deliver and save where they will. If they made sense, they would not be miracles.” 14 likes
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