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An Excellent Mystery (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #11)
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An Excellent Mystery (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #11)

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  4,793 Ratings  ·  181 Reviews
In 1141, two monks have arrived in Shrewsbury from Winchester, where their abbey was destroyed. Now Brother Humilis, who is very ill, and Brother Fidelis, who is mute, must seek refuge at Shrewsbury. And from the moment he meets them, Brother Cadfael senses something deeper than their common vows binds these two brothers. And as Brother Humilis's health fails, Brother Cadf ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 1st 1997 by Mysterious Press (first published 1985)
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Jun 04, 2012 Nancy rated it really liked it
It's fitting that the middle book of the Cadfael series is the most unique. It's the only book of the series in which no one is killed and the ubiquitous pair of young lovebirds is almost completely absent. Instead of a murder mystery, it's a story of passion, loyalty, justice, service, and devotion. The "excellent mystery" part doesn't kick in until a third to halfway through the book and isn't fully explained until the end. All of the characters are passionate about something, for good or ill, ...more
The war between vying rulers continues in this installment of the Brother Cadfael mystery series. After a fire has razed an abbey in Winchester, two monks straggle in, one obviously weak and injured. Brothers Humilis and Fidelis are given refuge, but it's not long before the search is on for Brother Humilis' former fiancee, who chose to become a nun after his crusades injury, which has rendered him unable to keep a manor nor a wife, released her from the agreement made when she was only five.

An Excellent Mystery, a phrase taken from the Solemnization of Matrimony from the Book of Common Prayer, is a great name for this episode in the Cadfael saga though there are no actual weddings here to solemnize.

Instead this story deals with a man who becomes betroathed to a much younger girl before departing on crusade. After gaining some fame while on crusade, the man is grievously injured. He breaks the betroathal and joins a Benedictine order as Brother Humilus. His intended bride decides to
Vicky "phenkos"
Mar 12, 2017 Vicky "phenkos" rated it liked it
I first came across the Brother Cadfael chronicles as a teenager. I loved them at the time -- I read as many as I could get my hands on. I then put them out of my mind until very recently when I had a bit of time and wanted something familiar and re-assuring to keep me company. Brother Cadfael is re-assuring; a well-weathered monk with knowledge of the world, of battles and romantic love, a gentle man, whose knowledge of medicinal herbs and ailments makes him even more respectable. Approachable, ...more
Cecily Felber
Nov 11, 2010 Cecily Felber rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
A pair of monks, refugees from the destruction of their abbey in the fighting and destruction at Winchester, arrive at Shrewsbury, one obviously dying, the other, his devoted companion, mute. A noblewoman, supposedly having taken the veil three years ago, is revealed to be missing and may have been murdered for her wealth. A tormented man, recently joining the abbey, has brought his unhappy past with him. Brother Cadfael must unpick this tangled skein of secrets, devotion, inner conflict and hid ...more
Dec 18, 2016 Ron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“A duty once assumed is a duty to the end.”

My favorite Cadfael story. All the elements familiar to Peters’ readers--death, mystery, and sleuthing set amid a historic civil war, medieval culture, Welsh borderlands, and young love; but Peters mixes the ingredients a little differently this time.

“To me he has been all the sons I shall never father.”

Peters’ best investigation of what constitutes a life well lived. A man returns from the Crusades, as did Cadfael himself, to retire from the world int
Fr.Bill M
Jul 21, 2007 Fr.Bill M rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-for-fun
Ellis Peters' Cadfael novels are -- all of them -- outstandingly entertaining and edifying works. This one, however, is astounding in its beauty, mystery, and breath-taking conclusion. The phrase "excellent mystery" comes from a prayer in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer order of service for marriage, and it is worth reading the whole prayer as a background for Peters' excellent mystery about that most excellent mystery:

O God, who by thy mighty power hast made all things of nothing; who also (afte
Jul 03, 2011 Gwyn rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
An Excellent Mystery is anything but. Over the course of the series, the plots have become increasing slow and the mystery itself has taken longer and longer to appear. While Cadfael books are not exactly action-packed, An Excellent Mystery positively dragged, and aside from a little odd behavior nothing mysterious even occurred until halfway through, and many of the clues were completely transparent. There are problems involving point-of-view, with information being revealed to reader that the ...more
Feb 11, 2015 dianne rated it liked it
i am always impressed with Peters' ability to tangle language so it sounds medieval, and i had never thought of how the Normans may have irritated the Saxons just by being there in the decades following 1066, but overall this was a bit of a disappointment. i had solved the mystery half way through which made the rest sort of unexciting. The series is great - this book, only ok.
Mar 04, 2017 Lance rated it it was ok
"Love in ignorance squanders what love, informed, crowds and overfills with tokens of eternity."

No! No, no, no, no. Not again! An Excellent Mystery came very, very close to being a peircing, transcendental redefinition of love and a stoic address of the meaning of gender and its role in love. However, once again the androgenous, besotted young novice was revealed to be a girl in disguise. "'You would have destroyed all that Fidelis was, all that Fidelis did, fouled and muddied it into a byword.'
Mar 20, 2017 Yibbie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In the past, I have recommended Ellis Peter’s mysteries unreservedly. I have found them clean and very enjoyable. Oh, I didn’t agree with any of the theology and found the occasional mysticism a trifle convenient at times, but as medieval mysteries, I’ve liked them. Now comes the but. This book was different.
It was still clean. There was no foul language. Questionable scenes were handled delicately. But… It still made me uncomfortable. One of the characters struggled with Sodomy. It was impli
Apr 28, 2009 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reread-books, 2003, 2010
1st Recorded Reading: November 2003

I very much enjoyed this particular Brother Cadfael mystery, even though it is of a slightly different style than the previous books in the series; while there is a missing person, there is a distinct lack of young lovers for Brother Cadfael to bring together. On the other hand, it is, as the title states, An Excellent Mystery, and one that I enjoyed reading, although (perhaps because I read the book once before, in November 2003), I figured out the main plot p
Oct 19, 2015 Denise rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
Two monks, one gravely ill and the other his mute caretaker, seek sanctuary at Shrewsbury Abbey after their own abbey has been destroyed in Empress Maud's attack on Winchester. Cadfael soon wonders whether there might not be more to those two and their close bond than meets the eye. The main mystery, however, is the disappearance three years ago of the young noble girl once affianced to the elder of the abbey's newest residents, which has only now come to light...
This one differs from the rest
Deborah Pickstone
Edith Pargeter is quite clear - she was only ever interested in writing about the good in people. I think this is what makes her work so endearing and engaging. This episode in Brother Cadfael's adventures is especially interesting because the author engages with what she herself clearly believed marriage was all about. Even saying that much is a spoiler, really, so I won't enlarge at all on the story but just say that I found the faith in people expressed in this tale quite lovely. It also cont ...more
Despite the cover of my edition, there is no murder in this mystery story and despite this singularly strange lack in a Cadfael story, there is no lack of strange doings for my favorite monk to unravel.
I wasn't enamored of the third party, the young man who sets the mystery in motion. He wasn't a well developed enough character to have such a defining part in the tale. In my opinion at least.
Still, all my favorite characters where here and Peters writing was wonderful as usual. Maybe not the b
Dec 06, 2008 Lori rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery-suspense
This is one of my all-time favorite series of books and probably my favorite from the series so far. The literary quality is so beautiful and rarely matched by modern writers. Ellis Peters, with a beautiful turn of almost every phrase, manages to take the reader to the middle of the 12th Century England, educate us along the way while sharing such gentle insight into the human condition that we want to continually return for a visit. Who wouldn't want to have Brother Cadfael as a friend and conf ...more
Nancy Ellis
Jul 14, 2016 Nancy Ellis rated it it was amazing
This was, indeed, an excellent mystery! This series is so delightful and entertaining, it is easy to excuse the perhaps somewhat farfetched plots. The characters are always wonderful, and I particularly enjoy the way history is blended into the story line. I'm continuing to work my way through this complete series....
Feb 16, 2008 Kirsten rated it it was amazing
This is probably my favorite Brother Cadfael book so far. There isn't the same kind of mystery as usual -- there's no body, no murderer to track down as such... Instead, it's an intriguing reflection on love, loyalty, and the strength of human bonds, which can be just as mysterious as any murder.
Mike (the Paladin)
The Civil war between King Stephen and Empress Maud touches Shrewsbury Abbey. (This is one of the fascinating themes that drew me to this series). Cadfael has to come up with the truth again.

As always a good book that just happens to be a good mystery.
Jan 07, 2015 Anne rated it it was amazing
A slow boil if there ever was one. I had no idea what the actual mystery was going to be until maybe 60 pages in, and I didn't even remotely suspect the ending. Excellent, indeed!
Ledayne Polaski
Jun 02, 2015 Ledayne Polaski rated it really liked it
About 1/4 of the way into this book, I realized I had read it before -- but I went ahead and read it again anyway for the simple delight of this wonderful series.
Dec 16, 2014 Gina rated it it was ok
Just an okay mystery.
Again, this volume is unsearchable by title. Searching by title only comes up with multivolume sets. It's necessary to search by ISBN# to come up with the individual volume. [2015--this has apparently been repaired]

Too many of the books in this series have the exact same cover picture, especially the ones published by Fawcett Crest. A corpse in an open grassy field, arms outstretched, lying at an angle on its back. The clothes are changed, and that's pretty much it. It's not only a sneaky way to
Elena Santangelo
Feb 01, 2017 Elena Santangelo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This was an audio book and the reader was very good, though he gave Brother Cadfael a Welsh accent which at first I found hard to follow, until I got used to it. The mystery, as with all Ellis Peters books I've read, was indeed excellent and truly mysterious (which many mystery books aren't). I did guess certain twists before they happened, hence 4 stars instead of 5, but the prose was first rate, the history accurate and the storytelling entertaining. Lovely way to spend cold winter afternoons.
May 09, 2017 Pancha rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
One of the more obvious of the Cadfael mysteries, but I enjoy imagining Sir Derek doing the scenes, so this was still an enjoyable read. No actual murder this time, but there is a death by misadventure towards the end. One of the happier installments, I think.
Feb 15, 2017 Marlene rated it really liked it
An excellent mystery that was an excellent read! I figured it out about six chapters before the end but couldn't wait to see how the author tied it all together. Very nicely done.
Mar 18, 2017 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
The fun in this one was not as much in figuring out the mystery (if I could figure it out, it must be pretty obvious) as figuring out how much the characters had figured out at various points along the way.
Nathan Albright
Nov 07, 2016 Nathan Albright rated it it was amazing
The eleventh book in the Brother Cadfael series [1], this book is different from much of the series in that it actually does not involve a murder at its heart. To be sure, the context of the book has a lot of death and destruction as a result of fighting around the city of Winchester, fighting that sends a grievously wounded Benedictine monk into the Abbey in Shrewsbury with his mute and devoted companion. Indeed, it is the dying man who prompts so much concern, as a younger fellow wishes to cou ...more
Nov 21, 2015 A.M. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The excellent mystery is, of course, marriage as referred to in the Book of Common Prayer.
In the middle of the continuing civil war between Empress Maud and King Stephen nowhere is safe. Mobs burn abbeys and churches. The roads are full of people seeking sanctuary. Two such penitents reach Shrewsbury, Brother Humilis, who is very ill, and Brother Fidelis, who is his mute companion. Before entering the church Humilis was a local man, Godfrid Marescot, a landowner and the last of his line and he h
Dec 31, 2015 TheAromaofBooks rated it it was amazing
This is actually one of my favorite Cadfael books, and I’m not sure that I can exactly describe why. I won’t try to describe the entire story, but towards the beginning of the book, a monk, Brother Humilis, comes to stay at the Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. While not an old man, he fought in the Crusades and was terribly injured there. And though he was somewhat recovered, he is still dying, slowly. Traveling with him is another brother, Brother Fidelis. Though mute, Fidelis shows his dev ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Devil's Door (Catherine LeVendeur, #2)
  • A Gift of Sanctuary (Owen Archer, #6)
  • The Bishop's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #4)
  • The Subtle Serpent (Sister Fidelma, #4)
  • Spy in Chancery (Hugh Corbett, #3)
  • Persona Non Grata (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #3)
A pseudonym used by Edith Pargeter.

Edith Mary Pargeter, OBE, BEM 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 Horsehay (Shropshire, England), she had Welsh ancestry, and many of her sho
More about Ellis Peters...

Other Books in the Series

Chronicles of Brother Cadfael (1 - 10 of 21 books)
  • A Rare Benedictine (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, prequel stories 0.1-0.3)
  • A Morbid Taste for Bones (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #1)
  • 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)

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