This is the Seventh book in the series about Brother Cadfael, who in addition to being the chief herbalist in the Benedi1st Recorded Reading: May 2003
This is the Seventh book in the series about Brother Cadfael, who in addition to being the chief herbalist in the Benedictine Abbey to which he belongs in the early 12th century, is also called upon quite often when dead bodies appear around the Abbey. And I very much enjoyed this particular installment. (My late sister in law Pookie, who was a lawyer, once observed that if she was in charge of law enforcement, the first person she would arrest for the spate of murders in Cabot Cove, Maine, would be mystery writer Jessica Fletcher, because she always seemed to be connected with each and every murder. One could make the same observation about Brother Cadfael.)
Some four weeks after Easter, in the Year of our Lord 1140, the monks at the Benedictine Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul at Shrewsbury are reciting the midnight office of Matins (one of the seven Hours recited in the Liturgy of the Hours) when they hear the sounds of a large noisy crowd pursuing someone. The someone being pursued bursts into the church and makes his way to the altar just as the large noisy crowd bursts in behind him, crying that he has committed murder and robbery. One Daniel Aurifaber, the son of the local goldsmith, asserts that during his (Daniel’s) wedding feast, the person clutching the altar, a poor acrobat and juggler named Liliwin, had performed for the guests but had broken a pitcher during his juggling exhibition. He was then thrown out and tossed a penny, only one-third of his agreed fee, and that the acrobat had gone out into the night threatening the family loudly. Then, when the goldsmith, Walter Aurifaber, had gone to put his new daughter-in-law’s dowry into his strongbox, he had been struck down, and the gold stolen. Abbot Heribert, none too pleased to have a vigilante committee invading his precincts, notes that the acrobat has claimed sanctuary, and that he cannot be taken for forty days without due process. The abbot then puts the acrobat in the care of Brother Cadfael, who has wide experience in treating those who are injured.
It turns out in the light of day that the goldsmith is not murdered, but alive; but all in his household aver that only the acrobat could have done the robbery by violence. All, that is, except the maid Rannilt, who has fallen in love with the unfortunate Liliwin, and insists that he could not have done what he is accused of doing. Brother Cadfael takes an interest in Liliwin, and determines that he will find out precisely what happened, and who did it, but not before a dead body is discovered the morning after the evening when Liliwin sneaks out of the Abbey precincts to escort Rannilt (who has come to visit him, with the leave of her mistress, Susanna Aurifaber, spinster daughter of the goldsmith) back to her quarters at the goldsmith’s after dark.
In the end, of course, Brother Cadfael figures out the mystery, leaving me free to read the next book in the series, which I shall do with great pleasure. I still have several books in the series to read before I get to the books I have not previously read (I read this one in May of 2003), but these are the kinds of books that one enjoys reading again after a passage of years....more