I found this particular book in the series of Brother Cadfael mysteries to be quite, well, mysterious; besides d...more1st Recorded Reading: August 20, 2007.
I found this particular book in the series of Brother Cadfael mysteries to be quite, well, mysterious; besides dealing with young love and the obligatory dead body (one almost starts wondering, at the beginning of each book, who it is that is wearing the Red Security Shirt made infamous in every given Star Trek episode, as it was always a guy in a Red Security Shirt who got killed in the first few minutes of each episode), the question of Heresy raises its head in relatively quiet Shrewsbury. (And for those who, for whatever reason, do not care to read further, I loved this book.)
It is the middle of June, 1143, which means that it is time once again for the annual celebration of the Translation of St. Winifred’s relics to the Abbey, which occurred back in 1137 (with Brother Cadfael’s aid). Among the guests at the Abbey are Canon Gerbert, of the Augustinian canons of Canterbury; he did not mean to be at the Abbey, for he was on his way to Chester on a political errand, but his horse went lame. Another guest, so to speak is William of Lythwood, a former merchant of Shrewsbury, who went on pilgrimage to the East some seven years back with a young clerk of his household; William died in France, and in accordance with his last wish, the young clerk (now twenty-six years old), one Elave, has brought him home to be buried in the cemetery at the Abbey, once permission is granted by the Abbot. When Elave goes to Chapter at the Abbey to request permission for his master to be buried at the Abbey, an old accusation of heresy against William arises, which is soon dismissed, but not before it becomes apparent that Canon Gerbert has a horror of heresy, especially any that comes from the East.
Elave then goes to the Lythwood household; Girard runs the household with his wife, as a merchant concerned with several flocks of sheep out in the hills, and his brother, Jevan (both of them nephews to the deceased William) methodically works the skins of sheep into valuable vellum for parchments. The household also contains one Conan, who works with the sheep in the hills, one Aldwin, who became clerk in the house when Elave left with William on pilgrimage, and one Fortunata, a foundling that William had taken in upon her birth into the household. Elave has brought a locked box from the East, a present from William to his ward for her dowry, but the household decides to wait until the return of Girard before opening the box, as he is out in the hills with the sheep. Elave is also struck by Fortunata, whom he remembered as a gawky eleven-year-old girl; in seven years, she has filled out nicely.
In short order, Elave is accused of heresy (by Aldwin and Conan), and soon after, the obligatory dead body shows up (in the Severn, but not before being stabbed to death). For the rest of the book, Brother Cadfael concerns himself with the question of who did the murder, a particular mystery concerning the contents of William’s box containing Fortunata’s dowry, and the heresy (or supposed heresy) of Elave, whose trial will await the coming of the local bishop, Roger de Clinton.
This is the last book of the series that I had read previously, back in August of 2007, and I was surprised at how much I remembered of the plot lines of the book. But from here on out, I will be reading Brother Cadfael books that I have never read before, which I anticipate will be fun reading.(less)